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Totton car thief Paige Pond avoids jail term after appearing at Southampton Crown Court

A teenager stole two cars in a Facebook test drive scam with two accomplices, a court heard.

Appearing at Southampton Crown Court, Paige Pond, of Ringwood Road, Totton, had pleaded guilty to stealing a blue Volvo on 29th April, 2021, along with a BMW on 24th June of that year.

The defendant (22), who was 19 when she committed the crimes, appeared alongside Leon James (25) and Alan Cozens (38), both of Bournemouth.

Pond was sentenced at Southampton Crown Court
Pond was sentenced at Southampton Crown Court

James and Cozens had both previously pleaded guilty to stealing the BMW in the Southampton area.

Prosecutor Grace McConnell said Pond had responded to a Facebook ad posted by a man selling the Volvo during the Covid lockdown. She arranged for her accomplices to view the vehicle and take it for a test drive.

James and Cozens arrived at the victim’s home wearing high-vis jackets. They were asked by the victim to return the car from a test drive within 20 minutes before another potential buyer arrived at the property.

When the car was not back in time, the victim contacted Pond via Facebook, and she sent him a “series of messages… effectively stalling for time”, and blaming Cozens, the court heard.

The victim reported the car as stolen while continuing to exchange messages with Pond.

Two months later, the BMW Pond had stolen was found in a car park in Beaulieu by police as officers were serving eviction notices to caravan owners parked illegally.

She got out of the vehicle and spoke with police before handing over the keys and saying Cozens had stolen it.

The court heard the Volvo had been taken under similar circumstances, with Judge Christopher Parker noting that this was “not sophisticated offending”.

Pond had denied stealing a Hyundai in June 2021 with her accomplices. Miss McConnell said that crime also involved James and Cozens arranging a test drive of a car advertised for sale online.

The court heard the pair gave the victim fake personal details and handed over a bunch of keys as collateral before taking the car. Pond said she later gave the keys to the Hyundai to a New Forest ranger.

Ms McConnell said Pond has a previous conviction for two offences of criminal damage and battery, for which she served a nine-month referral order.

Cozens has 29 previous convictions for 53 offences, including vehicle thefts, battery and dangerous driving.

James has 25 previous convictions for 65 offences, including dishonesty fraud, taking vehicles without consent and driving while disqualified. The BMW theft also put him in breach of a community order for theft from a vehicle.

Defending Pond, Nicola Sully said her client was 19 at the time of her offending and was in a “coercive and controlling” relationship with Cozens. Miss Sully said: “She is remorseful and has apologised to the people involved.”

Pond also has autism, ADHD and dyslexia, the court heard.

Mitigating for James, Eve Shelley said he deserved credit for pleading guilty and that he had also suffered “coercion and pressure” from Cozens.

Defending Cozens, Amber Athill said he deserved credit for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity and has had to wait more than 18 months to be sentenced. She said her client had stolen second hand vehicles because he was homeless and was trying to “put a roof over his head”.

Judge Parker handed down two concurrent six-month jail terms, both suspended for a year, to cover Pond’s offences. He also ordered she complete 50 hours of unpaid community work and 20 hours of rehabilitation activities.

James was given an 11-month jail term, suspended for 18 months, and Cozens was sentenced to nine months in jail, also suspended for 18 months. In addition, he was ordered to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work.

Noting the reduced sentences were partly down to delays in the criminal justice system, the judge said: “You’ve all been incredibly lucky”, before warning them they would go to jail if they reappear before the courts.

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