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Serial thief with 126 convictions who stole over £1,000 of goods from Rutland Cycling to 'buy his daughter a birthday present' avoids jail

Despite having over 120 previous offences on his record, James Kulesza was given a "final, final chance" after stealing items such as pedals and lights from the retailer...

A serial shoplifter with 126 convictions on his record has avoided jail for stealing over £1,000 of goods from a Rutland Cycling store in the East Midlands, with the chairman of the magistrates' bench telling him he was on his "final, final chance."

According to Leicestershire Live, James Kulesza told police he stole the items to fund a present for his daughter's birthday, which he claimed he could not afford. The 42-year-old, who lives in Peterborough, had driven to the store - believed to be Rutland Cycling's Giant Concept Store on the shore of Rutland Water - to carry out the theft, before driving off afterwards. 

In stealing the haul, worth just under £1,005, Kulesza went in and out of the shop three times, taking items such as lights and pedals. It was reported that staff only realised a theft had occurred later on in the day, after which police were called. One of the officers recognised Kulesza from the CCTV footage, and he was arrested. 

Leicester Magistrates' Court heard how Kulesza fully admitted the offences, and was unable to work because he was caring for his terminally ill wife. 

Chairman of the bench Amrik Singh told him: "You know you've an awful record, don't you?

"This offence has crossed the custody threshold - it does deserve prison.

"But what we're going to do is give you this final, final chance.

"You commit another offence and you will go down.

"There's others that depend on you. You say you're going to change. You need to demonstrate that you can do that - the onus is on you."

Kulesza was handed a 14-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, and was told to pay £800 compensation to Rutland.

It's not the first time the family-run Rutland Cycling chain has been hit by burglaries recently. In October last year, seven thieves were jailed after a £70,000 raid at Rutland's Grafham Water branch. It was foiled by police after a report of a burglary in progress at 0250hrs on Monday 2 August 2021, with some of the thieves abandoning a Volkswagen Crafter van and attempting to flee on foot, and the rest found inside a crashed Skoda Yeti near to the shop. A huge haul 23 bikes were discovered by the officers at the scene. 

Two members of the gang, Ryan Griffin and Jamelle Payne, were jailed for three years and four months, while the other five were given three year sentences. 

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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14 comments

Avatar
EK Spinner | 2 years ago
6 likes

"The 42-year-old, who lives in Peterborough, had driven to the store - believed to be Rutland Cycling's Giant Concept Store on the shore of Rutland Water - to carry out the theft, before driving off afterwards. "

Now surely if he can afford to own/insure/tax/MoT/maintain a car then he can afford a bday present for his daughter. because we all know nobody wul be able to drive around without the correct paperwork

Avatar
muhasib | 2 years ago
3 likes

So he has to pay £800 compensation but previously couldn't afford a daughter's birthday present without shoplifting and is 'a full time carer'

That must be taking some time to pay off, still kudos to the police recognising him if he's truly been inactive for 4 years.

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Oldfatgit | 2 years ago
2 likes

14 week suspended for 12 months.
At least he didn't kill a cyclist to get such a lenient sentence.

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ErnieC | 2 years ago
2 likes

"But what we're going to do is give you this final, final chance.  I thought final was final? Send them to jail before they steal again. 

Avatar
RoubaixCube | 2 years ago
8 likes

Serial thief with 126 convictions...

If he couldnt stop the first or second time, what makes people think he's going to stop the 126th, 127th, 128th, 129th, 130th time?

what is wrong with the people on the Jury?? Imagine if you were burgled/mugged by the same person 126 times. Would you not want this menice to have his 'reign of terror' ended and stuck behind bars?

Im not saying that a person who commits a crime doesnt deserve a second chance (unless he or she murded someone) Everyone deserves a second chance to turn their life around.

But this guy has had more than enough chances to get his life back on the straight and narrow.

I despair for humanity.

Avatar
wtjs replied to RoubaixCube | 2 years ago
6 likes

what is wrong with the people on the Jury??

More to the point, what is wrong with the pillocks on the Bench? What we know is that, as far as the legal process is concerned, if an offence is anti-cyclist or anti-cycling, it's not a real offence and is treated as a minor misdemeanour no matter how often the villian commits it

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OnYerBike replied to RoubaixCube | 2 years ago
8 likes

Sounds like this was heard in the Magistrate's court (no jury) and even in Crown Court the jury only decide guilty/not guilty - sentencing is up to the Judge and no jury is required if the accused admits the charges (as Kulesza did).

Avatar
mdavidford replied to RoubaixCube | 2 years ago
1 like
RoubaixCube wrote:

Serial thief with 126 convictions...

If he couldnt stop the first or second time, what makes people think he's going to stop the 126th, 127th, 128th, 129th, 130th time?

I'm not sure that we know that all the other convictions were for theft. The source story says

Quote:

Sukhy Basi, prosecuting, [...] said Kulesza's record of 126 offences included previous shop thefts but had last been convicted - and jailed - in 2018 after stealing from shops.

...which doesn't appear to make much sense, but I would assume that if it 'included' other thefts, then it also included other things.

RoubaixCube wrote:

what is wrong with the people on the Jury??

It was a Magistrate's Court, so no jury involved (as far as I understand it).

Avatar
IanMSpencer replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
1 like

Magistrates are a sort of permanent jury, 3 volunteers who have had some training but are ordinary people. They are bound by sentencing guidelines which give a fairly clear set of limits to their sentencing decisions. My ex is a magistrate, and often they believe they can see the reality of a situation, but the legal guys make such a mess of what is presented that they are tied to a course of action by what is presented in court.

They are also bound to accept statements from the representing solicitors as true, so if the solicitor says that the partner is dying then the magistrate has to believe that. You would have to be particularly hard hearted to jail someone whose partner was dying.

I have problems with the guys strange excuse that presents justify stealing a high value of goods, but then again, I think we all can see that the consumer world we live in has put a lot of pressure on people to believe that we must have Things. It's easy for us who have Things to be judgemental, but if you are grinding along at the bottom of the heap I imagine the envy is heartbreakingly strong.

Avatar
mdavidford replied to IanMSpencer | 2 years ago
1 like
IanMSpencer wrote:

Magistrates are a sort of permanent jury, 3 volunteers who have had some training but are ordinary people. They are bound by sentencing guidelines which give a fairly clear set of limits to their sentencing decisions.

Being made up of 'ordinary people' doesn't make it a jury, though. Jury service is a legal obligation, not a voluntary undertaking, has the essential characteristic of random(ish) selection, and is concerned more with questions of guilt or innocence rather than sentencing.

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Captain Badger replied to IanMSpencer | 2 years ago
2 likes
IanMSpencer wrote:

Magistrates are a sort of permanent jury, 3 volunteers who have had some training but are ordinary people. .......

I'll stop you right there. How many ordinary people are in the position to be able to commit to being a magistrate? 

We could embark on a to and fro about how it's open to anyone, but the main thing is that the overwhelming majority is over 50 (86%), and ethnic minorities are underrepresented (13% against 20% in teh wider population).

As juries are not self-selecting but selected at random, I don't believe we can say that mags are equivalent to Jury.

In addition their roles are different, in that juries don't sentence, and have no direct input into the court proceedings apart from the verdict

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to RoubaixCube | 2 years ago
1 like
RoubaixCube wrote:

Serial thief with 126 convictions...

If he couldnt stop the first or second time, what makes people think he's going to stop the 126th, 127th, 128th, 129th, 130th time?

what is wrong with the people on the Jury?? Imagine if you were burgled/mugged by the same person 126 times. Would you not want this menice to have his 'reign of terror' ended and stuck behind bars?

Im not saying that a person who commits a crime doesnt deserve a second chance (unless he or she murded someone) Everyone deserves a second chance to turn their life around.

But this guy has had more than enough chances to get his life back on the straight and narrow.

I despair for humanity.

I would doubt the jury had anything to do with it. It was a magistrates court, and in any case juries don't sentence in the UK

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to RoubaixCube | 2 years ago
1 like
RoubaixCube wrote:

what is wrong with the people on the Jury??

As others have noted below, no jury in a Magistrates' Court, but even if it had been Crown Court with a jury, the jury have no say in the sentencing; they simply pronounce on guilt or otherwise, the judge does the sentencing.

Avatar
Boopop | 2 years ago
2 likes

126 convictions! Someone's stuck in a rut. Hopefully James can break this cycle of crime and move on.

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