A pair of British construction workers have been found guilty of stealing thousands of contact lenses from a truck. The two men, Barry Sheil and Michael Steele, were officially sentenced on April 28th at Worcester Crown Court.
Both Sheil and Steele admitted to stealing over 1,000 boxes of contact lenses from a parked truck at the Welcome Break Hopwood Park Services near Birmingham. The truck driver was sleeping behind the wheel at the time, but another truck driver in the area spotted the two thieves.
This second truck driver quickly wrote down the robbers' van registration number. Once the van left, this driver contacted the police. He also woke up the driver behind the wheel of the parked contact lens truck. This all took place on March 1st around 2AM.
Local police forces were soon able to catch up with the van and apprehend the criminals. They found a total of 1,260 small boxes filled with contact lenses. These smaller boxes were contained in 28 larger boxes.
Ian Ball, the prosecutor in this case, told the court that 248 contact lens boxes were severely damaged and couldn't be resold. The total loss from these damaged boxes was £1,431. The other daily disposable lenses could still be used.
Although Sheil and Steele admitted to stealing the boxes of contacts, they denied cutting a hole in the truck. Police officers found that there was a hole in the flap of the contact lens truck once they met with the driver. Sheil told the court that someone else must have cut this hole because it was there before he and Steele decided to steal the boxes.
No concrete evidence was provided to charge either Steele or Sheil with vehicular interference. The court found the two men not guilty on these eight lesser counts.
Judge Robert Juckes presided over this trail. He forced both men to do 125 hours of unpaid community service and ordered them to pay £715.50 each for the damaged contacts. Both men will also have to pay £225 each for court fees.
Sheil, 33, has 15 convictions and seven cautions on his record. Most of his convictions involve theft or drug possession.
Although Steele, 24, is younger than Shiel, he has 16 prior convictions and four cautions. Most of these convictions have to do with petty theft.
Sheil's probation officer told the judge that Sheil has a serious problem with alcohol abuse. At the moment, Sheil is considered a functional alcoholic and feels he needs at least one alcoholic beverage a day. The probation officer said that Sheil actually had some alcohol right before he entered the trial. Sheil has also used cocaine extensively in the past.
To help curb Sheil's drinking, Judge Juckes ordered Sheil to attend alcohol treatment classes over the next 12 months. Steele, who doesn't drink at all, will not have to attend these classes.
Steele and Sheil currently work for the company Oakleaf Construction.