Northampton criminal spared jail for series of offences after 'working hard to turn his life around'

Vine breached suspended drug-dealing sentence by stealing from petrol station, driving without insurance or a licence and possessing cannabis

Monday, 28th June 2021, 4:11 pm

A Northampton criminal has been rewarded for 'turning his life around' by not having to go to prison over a series of offences.

Stephen Vine stole from a petrol station, drove without insurance or a licence and was caught with cannabis in the town centre - all breaching a suspended sentence for drug-dealing.

But after previously struggling with addiction, the 27-year-old, of Campbell Street, has managed to stay sober and in stable accommodation and employment since he was last in court 17 months ago.

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Northampton Crown Court
Northampton Crown Court

So Her Honour Judge Rebecca Crane decided to fine him £200, give him a 12-month community order to help with his rehabilitation and disqualify him from driving for six months at Northampton Crown Court on Monday (June 28).

"You have kept up your end of the bargain so I will keep up my side," she told him.

"It would be unjust to activate the suspended sentence as I don't want to put back the real steps you have made in your life."

Priya Bakshi, prosecuting, said Vine was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 24 months, as well as a series of requirements to work with the Probation Service for supplying drugs in March, 2019.

On January 11, 2020, he was caught by police smoking a spliff in a shop entrance in the town centre after a report from a member of the public.

Four days later, Judge Crane decided to defer sentencing Vine after he pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis to see if he could maintain the positive changes he had made in his life.

But he was arrested four months later for stealing just under £12-worth of petrol from the BP garage on Crow Lane at Billing Aquadrome and driving without insurance or a licence.

Vine had filled up two petrol cans at the Crow Lane station and driven off with paying at around 7.30pm on May 25, 2020, before returning to do it again with just one can as a passenger two days later.

His Renault Megane was spotted by automatic number plate recognition cameras but he refused to stop for police and was chased by police dogs when he tried to run away - unsuccessfully.

Liam Muir, defending, said his client, who pleaded guilty to all charges at Northampton Magistrates' Court on November 17, last year, wants to change and wants the help and feels he is moving forward in the right direction.

Judge Crane said Vine struggled to explain why he behaved as he did but clearly has issues with his mental health and his memory after being hit by a car.

But she commended him for his efforts to keep up with his rent for the first time and engaging with social services, according to his key worker.

"Well done with the progress you have made and good luck with continuing it," she told him at the end of the hearing.