A prolific criminal has been jailed again for stealing a car without realising a six-month-old baby was in the back seat.
Ricky Halford, 38, jumped into the driver’s seat of a Mercedes with tinted windows parked outside a Co-op in Bromley before driving away "at speed".Appearing at Croydon Crown Court, Halford was sentenced to 14 months in jail after pleading guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, driving without a licence and driving without insurance.
The incident took place in January after a man in his 30s parked his car outside the shop on Chatterton Road and left the engine running to deliver a parcel.Halford, from Bromley, jumped into the driver seat and set off down the road.
Alex Slater, prosecuting, said that the dad was repeatedly shouting ‘My baby is in the car’ and smashed his own mobile telephone through the window of the driver's seat.
People nearby saw the man looking “distressed” with one offering him a seat in his van so they could give chase to Halford before the police arrived.A short while later, a woman saw Halford running down Chatterton Road and the car was found parked near the Co-op with a smashed window.
The police and the victim were able to trace it through the Find my Friends app on his iPhone, which he had thrown through the window of the car.Through a police investigation, Halford was arrested and initially charged with kidnapping, although that has been ordered to lie on file after he pleaded guilty to the driving offences.
The criminal has an “appalling record” with 44 previous convictions for 88 offences, including 16 for vehicle taking or theft from a vehicle.In his defence, Will Durrands said: “He is no baby thief. In this instance, he got more than what he bargained for. Had he known that the baby was in the car it is very unlikely he would have ever taken the vehicle. It is a different form of behaviour from what we have seen before.“Having known Mr Halford from now and previous cases, he has expressed to me his very deep remorse and regret. Mr Halford is the father of several children himself and as a father, he knows exactly what must have been going through the victim’s mind and he has personal insight and sympathy.”Jailing him for 14 months, Judge Gower QC said: “You took the opportunity, and I accept it was an opportunist rather than a planned act, to take his car and drive off with it and the baby inside it. I accept that you didn’t know that the baby was inside the vehicle and it is extremely unlikely you would have done so, had you known.”He continued: “You ought to have paid attention to the owner of the vehicle who was screaming at you that his child was inside the vehicle and smashed your driver seat with his mobile phone as you drove off.“As it was, the route it appears you had taken, you drove a relatively short distance and ended up bringing the car back to the original road albeit further down and abandoned it there. I make it clear had you driven miles away that would have been a far more serious set of circumstances for me to deal with.“You must reflect on the agony you must have caused to the victim in the 20 minutes or so when he was separated from his daughter in the car which you had taken,” he said. Halford was jailed for 14 months and has been disqualified from driving for a period of three years and seven months.