A homeless man who had been living in his car agreed to be a getaway driver for two shoplifters at Berkhamsted’s Tesco.
George Horton, 57, parked in the store’s underground car park while his two accomplices stole a printer, baby formula and a slow cooker at around half past twelve on Remembrance Sunday last year.
Prosecutor Andrea Scott-Lynch told St Albans Crown Court (pictured) they returned two hours later in Horton’s black Peugeot 206 while the Remembrance service was going on nearby.
This time, the two shoplifters were spotted by staff and abandoned their trolley and ran to the car. The police were called and officers, who were on duty in the High Street, arrived.
The prosecutor said: “The two constables ordered him to stop, but he revved the engine and ground the gears.
“He accelerated backwards and forwards three or four times. He drove forward again, hitting one officer on the right leg, causing pain and discomfort, but no injury.”
The prosecutor said although the police used their batons to smash his windscreen, Horton did not stop and drove up the ramp, causing a car coming down to stop.
He managed to squeeze the Peugeot through a gap and escape.
Two officers on mobile patrol had been alerted and saw the car with the smashed windscreen. They put on their blue lights and sirens and stopped Horton.
He was the only person in the car. The other two people have not been caught.
Horton, who had been living in Hemel Hempstead, appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and two charges of theft committed on November 14 last year.
He had no previous convictions or cautions.
When questioned by the police, he said he had been offered between £20 to £50 to be the getaway driver, saying he was homeless and living in his car.
Defending, Natalie Bird said: “He is ashamed and remorseful for the way he acted.”
She said he had been of impeccable character, had worked as a carpenter and used his skills to carry out charitable work.
In February last year, he was evicted by his landlady and had nowhere to live and no savings, having been affected by the pandemic.
Horton had needed £100 to fix a tyre on his car so he could travel to Banbury to work and had agreed to be the driver.
He panicked when the police arrived and his accomplice shouted: ‘Drive, drive,’.
He is now intent on getting his life back on track and is living in a night shelter in St Albans, she said
Judge Richard Foster told him: “It is very sad to see you here. You were a decent law-abiding man who had fallen on hard times and succumbed to crime.”
He passed a six-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months.
Horton must complete 15 rehabilitation days and is banned from driving for a year. He must take an extended retest before he can regain his licence.