Showman denies stealing campaigner's 40-foot caravan

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A funfair operator has denied stealing a 40-foot static caravan bound for North Devon from a woman who has led a campaign for the rights of park home residents.

Showman Stewart Gregory said he had nothing to do with the theft of the uninsured £28,000 home from a haulier’s yard in Willand, East Devon.

He said he had been hired to move it from Nuneaton to owner Sonia McColl’s home in Bishops Tawton, Barnstaple, but found that it was impossible to set it up at the site.

Gregory told Exeter Crown Court that he took the caravan to the yard of TS Haulage and had nothing more to do with it.

The company’s former sales manager Darren Baseley has admitted stealing the caravan but told the jury that it was removed and sold by Gregory.

The theft led to an unsuccessful nationwide appeal by police to trace the caravan, which Mrs McColl had planned to move to her daughter’s home in Devon to use as a granny annexe.

She was awarded an OBE for her work to protect occupants of park homes from site owners and is a prominent member of the Park Home Owners’ Justice Campaign.

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Gregory, aged 43, of Aldershot Road, Normandy, Surrey, denies theft. Baseley, aged 47, of Henrys Run, Cranbrook, admits theft but denies blackmail.

The prosecution say both men took part in the theft in November 2017 and that Baseley tried to extort money from the family who run TS Haulage by threatening to implicate them.

Baseley has told the jury that phone calls he made shortly after he was charged last year was merely asking them to honour an agreement to help with legal costs.

Gregory told the court that he had been contacted by Baseley to ask him to move the caravan to Devon and done so on November 8, 2017.

He said it became clear as soon as he arrived at North Tawton that a hoist would be needed to site the caravan and he then took it back to the yard in Willand.

He said he continued to have phone contact with Baseley to arrange payment but denied that he returned to Devon to steal the caravan on the night of November 21 to 22.

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