High-speed police chase sparked by angle-grinder attack on Bassetlaw cemetery gates
A man who attacked ornate metal gates with an angle-grinder at a Bassetlaw cemetery denied trying to steal them and claimed he only wanted to gain entry so he could camp there.
Michael Nicholson climbed over the fence and "decapitated" a metal pole to disable CCTV cameras at the site on Hundred Acre Lane, near Carlton-in-Lindrick, on the night of April 27, last year, said prosecutor Mark Fielding.
Police arrived and Nicholson fled in a black BMW with a teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Pursuing officers said they reached speeds of “approximately 100 mph”, before the BMW crashed into woodland at the junction of the lane with Blyth Road.
Both Nicholson and the teenager were chased and caught by officers. A black Nike holdall was found, which contained a black and red electric saw and other tools.
Officers found attempts had been made to cut the padlock on the gates, and discovered a long metal crow bar nearby.
Nottingham magistrates heard the cemetery didn't have any graves at the time, and only consisted of “open fields, car-parking, and a toilet block.”
Nearly £5,500 of damage was done to the cameras.
At a trial on Wednesday, Nicholson said he was asked by a friend to remove the padlock so he and fellow travellers could gain entry and camp away from the roadside.
He denied planning to steal the gates and claimed he cut down the CCTV cameras first "because we didn't want to feel invaded by cameras looking over you all the while”.
Mr Fielding told him: "The truth really is you destroyed the equipment because you didn't want to be filmed taking the gates away."
But Rebecca Meadows, defending, said there was no evidence of damage to the gate’s hinges or posts, and the site was "an ideal location" because it was safe for children.
Nicholson, 32, of Bloemfontein Street, Cudworth, Barnsley, and his co-defendant, admitted committing criminal damage, but were found not guilty of going equipped for theft and attempted theft, after denying the charges on February 12.
Nicholson, who has been out of trouble since 2012, was given a 12-month community order with 50 hours of unpaid work. He must pay £5,000 compensation.
His co-defendant, of previous good character, received a three-month referral order.