Devon man who stole car with toddler inside given jail term

A banned driver who stole a car unaware that a 14-month-old toddler was in the back has been given a six-month jail sentence.

Jeremy Hector, from Sampford Peverell, took the car in Tiverton, Devon, in June but stopped when the toddler said "hello".

Hector, 47, denied child abduction but admitted nine other charges including aggravated vehicle-taking.

He had already served five months on remand so was released immediately.

Hector denied he knew the toddler was in a child seat in the back of the Renault Scenic when he took it.

Prosecuting, Jonathan Barnes said a five-year-old boy was also in the car while the mother delivered meals on wheels, but he was let out by Hector when he found the car.

'Oi, you'

Hector drove for a mile and a half before returning to the road where he had stolen the vehicle, the court heard.

He got the toddler out of the car and shouted to a passerby "oi, you, there is a baby left down there" before driving off.

Exeter Crown Court heard Hector had 62 convictions for 291 offences, mostly for motoring offences and driving while disqualified.

He had stolen four different vehicles that week, even though he was serving a 37-month ban imposed in January.

Nigel Wraith, mitigating, said Hector had stolen the vehicles because he had split from his girlfriend and was "living and sleeping in them".

Hector admitted two offences of taking cars without authority, two of aggravated vehicle-taking, four of driving while disqualified, and one of leaving a filling station without paying. The charge of child abduction was dropped.

The judge, Recorder Michael Hubbard QC, told Hector he was "exceedingly fortunate" that the law meant he could not be jailed for a "few years" and sentenced him for the maximum of six months.

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