Thief steals £77K worth of cars in test drive scam

Six cars were taken and one salesman and badly injured

Thief steals £77K worth of cars in test drive scam

A thief who stole six cars with a total worth £77,000 during test drives has been jailed.

Matthew Barker had originally denied conspiring to steal cars with John Tuff, who has since died in prison.

Following Tuff’s death the 44-year-old changed his plea to guilty and was jailed for a total of three years and five months.

The pair had struck at garages in Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Coventry.

Prosecutor Matthew Brook said: “The conspiracy involves six cars worth a total of £77,000.

“They would drive to garages together, and Tuff would act as a potential customer and get in the car and either be given the keys or, as part of a test drive, would distract the salesman and drive away.

“Barker, having driven him to the scene, would then drive away in his silver Astra van in convoy with the stolen vehicle.”

Barker had a number of previous convictions for thefts of cars, and in December 2016 was released from an 18-month sentence for car theft.

Attempted murder

It was during this time that he stole six vehicles including a one where he ran a salesman over and dragged him several feet before making off in the vehicle.

It led to the attempted murder charge against Tuff but the court was told that he admitted causing the injuries but “didn’t mean to run him over.”

Tuff had been due to stand trial at Warwick Crown Court.

Barker was jailed for 35 months for the conspiracy, consecutive to six months of an eight-month suspended sentence imposed at Northampton Crown court for car theft, which he was subject to at the time.

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