Cello thief also had stolen fridge freezer and washing machine
12:00am Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
A THIEF who stole a cello then tried to sell it at Cash Converters also stole a fridge freezer and a washing machine, it has emerged in court.
Sean Lever, aged 30, of St Ann Street, Halliwell, took the cello from the car of musician Gabriella Gharino, after she parked it in Chorley Street earlier this month.
But he also stole a fridge freezer and washing machine from a Bolton house in July and broke into another vehicle in August, stealing £280 in cash.
The cello has sentimental value to Miss Guarino, from Ramsbottom, who bought it with money left to her by her boyfriend, Matthew Tuppen. He died five years ago, aged 21.
Bolton Magistrates Court heard that Lever, who has a problem with drugs, had attempted to sell the cello at Cash Converters and Cash Generators but both shops had refused to take it. It was then that Lever decided to dump the instrument.
Officers saw Lever on CCTV carrying the cello around the town centre with a woman — he was arrested within an hour of the crime being reported — but did not have the cello in his possession.
Defence solicitor Leigh Morgan said: “Mr Lever fully cooperated with police, and before he was interviewed, he drew a diagram of where he had stored the cello and the lady got it back thanks to his full cooperation.”
Miss Guarino, an enterprise youth worker at Bolton Lads and Girls Club, who was reunited with the cello the following day, said in a statement to the court: “I was distraught when I thought I had lost it for good because it was of sentimental value as it had been bought with money left to me by my late boyfirend."
Lever pleaded guilty to three charges of theft. Chairman of the bench Michael Phillips sentenced him to four months in prison suspended for four months for each offence, meaning Lever will go to prison if he commits any further offences in the next 12 months.
Lever was ordered to pay £150 compensation to the owner of the fridge freezer and washing machine and £150 to the owner of the vehicle he stole the cash from.
He was also ordered to undertake a drugs rehabilitation course and is under curfew to remain at home from 8pm to 7am.
After the case PC John Hepke, from Bolton Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, who helped reunite Ms Guarino with her cello, said: “The chain of events started with a member of the public calling us to tell us they witnessed her car being broken into, followed by staff at Cash Converters in Deansgate contacting Cash Generators on Bradshawgate, to warn them of a suspicious item being offered in exchange for money.
“Both stores acted extremely responsibly, rejecting the item and preserving CCTV footage of the offenders, which helped secure the conviction today.
“We were naturally delighted that all our hard work resulted in one of the offenders being arrested within an hour and a half of committing the offence and Gabriella’s cello, one of the more unusual items to be stolen in Bolton this year, being found within nine hours.”
Police are searching for the second suspect in connection with the theft of the cello.
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