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Jail for thief who conned £6,800 e-bike seller into letting him take it for a test ride

Louis Maxwell left van and keys as collateral – but vehicle had been stolen

A thief who posed as a potential buyer of an e-bike worth £6,800 but made off with it when he took it for a test ride, leaving a stolen van with the seller as collateral, has been jailed for 12 months.

Louis Maxwell, aged 34 and from Newport, Gwent, had got in touch with the seller when he saw the bike advertised for sale on Facebook, reports the South Wales Argus.

James Evans, prosecuting, who described the theft as a “sophisticated and planned offence,” told the court that Maxwell drove to the vendor’s house in the stolen van and left it, plus the keys, as a guarantee he would return from his test ride.

However, a friend was waiting around the corner in another van, and the pair made off with the bicycle.

The seller subsequently noticed that fake number plates had been placed over the van’s original plates.

The mobile phone number that Maxwell had left with the victim was allocated to a pay as you go phone.

However, officers from Gwent Police caught him after spotting him on CCTV at the time and location where it had last been topped up.

Maxwell, who was not charged with stealing the van – something that in any event, he denied – pleaded guilty to theft, handling stolen goods in relation to the van, and driving while banned, an offence for which he was already being investigated.

Sentencing Maxwell, who had 16 previous convictions relating to 49 offences – nine of those for driving while disqualified, and six for burglary – was told by Judge Jeremy Jenkins told Maxwell that “only a custodial sentence can be justified.”

He was jailed for 10 months for theft and handling stolen goods, plus two months for two counts of driving while disqualified, and was banned from driving for 18 months.

The e-bike he stole, however, has never been recovered.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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