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Man who tried to drive a JCB fork lift truck to Barnstaple appears before magistrates

By NDJAndrea  |  Posted: October 24, 2012

North Devon Magistrates' Court

A MAN who stole a JCB forklift truck to get home to Barnstaple, ended up tipping it over and writing it off.

North Devon Magistrates’ heard that Michael Cloak was walking home from Witheridge, where he had been visiting his girlfriend, when he came upon the yellow JCB in South Molton with its key inside and seized the opportunity.

But he lost control of it, tipped it over, and ended up in hospital.

Cloak, 38, of 4 Victoria Road, Barnstaple, pleaded guilty to using the JCB in North Road, South Molton, on Sunday with no insurance, without the proper licence and without the consent of the owner.

Sonia Croft, for the prosecution, said the vehicle was seen going backwards and forwards and out of control.

She said: “The driver did not seem to know how to control it.”

"It brought traffic to a halt in both directions before it tipped over completely.

"Cloak was injured and was airlifted to hospital.

The court heard that the JCB was written off in the accident.

"When interviewed by the police, Cloak accepted he took the JCB and said he was trying to get to Barnstaple.

"He also accepted he only had a provisional licence and had no insurance."

The court heard that the offences were committed while he was on police bail.

Tim Hook, for the defence, said his client had set off from Witheridge on the day in question and having walked a long way he came upon the JCB with its key inside and took a chance.

Mr Hook said it was a type of vehicle that Cloak had driven in the past when he worked on building sites, although he had not driven this particular one before.

His client had some difficulty in getting the vehicle moving.

Mr Hook said: “The one feature that was clear from observers is that it was moving very slowly. It was obviously a cumbersome vehicle.”

There was no interaction with any other vehicle or anything else apart from a hedge bank when it tipped over.

As a result his client suffered a badly bruised arm.

The case was adjourned until November 19 for probation reports.

Cloak was told that the magistrates felt the offences crossed the custody threshold and that all options would be considered. He was given a curfew running from 8am to 2pm and 8pm to 5am.

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