A henchman has been jailed for helping a burglar carry out a £28,000 smash and grab raid on a specialist bike shop.
Lee Napierski was to be paid a fee of just £500 to carry his friend Jamie Shean in his van on a mission to attack the Southfork shop in Braunton but the plan fell apart when neighbours called the police.
The intruders hoped to get away with a valuable cargo of stolen mountain and racing bikes but the noise of them smashing their way into the shop alerted people living upstairs.
They noted the registration of Napierski’s white van and it was intercepted on the road to Ilfracombe and chased down country lanes until it crashed, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Shean, who had been driving, ran off but Napierski was injured in the accident on the B3230 at Muddiford, was caught at the scene by police and made a full confession.
Napierski, 30, of Vincent Close, Bristol, admitted burglary and was jailed for 12 months by Recorder Mr Robert Linford.
Shean, 37, of Manor Park, Bristol, admitted two burglaries and theft and was jailed for 30 months at Exeter in June.
Recorder Mr Linford told Napierski: "You and Shean came down from Bristol to burgle and the shop in Braunton was entered by one of you smashing the window.
“I am prepared to accept Shean did most of the running and it was he who passed the bicycles out of the window but you would have known they were expensive pieces of kit and that what you were engaged in was serious offending.
“The burglary having taken place, the two of you drove off and there was a chase which was not directly your responsibility because Shean was driving.
“It was him who drove like a lunatic and put the van into reverse and almost rammed a police car. Luckily he did not make contact and thereafter the van turned over and you remained at the scene while he ran away.
“There are marked differences between you and him. You made immediate admissions, told the police you were 100 per cent guilty and expressed remorse.
“You apologised to them for becoming involved in the pursuit and in your words ‘putting their lives at risk’.
“I bear in mind that by a country mile you were less criminally sophisticated than the other man and you played a lesser role.”
Mr David Bowen, prosecuting, said people living near the shop raised the alarm at 2.40 am on April 24, after hearing the noise of the window breaking and the alarm going off.
He said: "Two new bicycles and two bicycles which were in for repair, five frames and seven suspension units were taken with a total value of £28,430. These were high value items.
“In addition there was £260 damage done to another bicycle and £2,000 to the shop. People living above it were disturbed by the noise and saw the van being loaded and phoned the police.
“They found it a short time later driving towards Ilfracombe and on seeing the blue lights its occupants drove off at speed with Shean driving.
“He turned down a B road and stopped and tried to reverse into the police car, the driver of which had to take evasive action. The van drove off at speed, took a bend too fast, and tumbled onto its roof.
“This was a high value burglary in which the offenders took a crowbar with them and travelled to the area. Clearly there was some pre planning.”
Mr Bowen said the bicycles inside were recovered but had suffered extensive damage in the crash and were not saleable as new.
Napierski told police he agreed to do the job because he was desperate for money and was offered £500 to help Shean.
Mr David Martin, defending, said Shean had a much longer criminal record and was the instigator of the raid, for which Napierski was due to be paid a fee which was a small fraction of the value of the bikes.
He said Napierski had no idea how much they were worth and had not entered the shop. His role had been to take the stolen items as Shean passed them through the window.
Shean also admitted two other thefts at a farm at Knowle.