Thieves left woman, 72, homeless after stealing entire £30,000 static home
Sonia McColl’s GBP30,000 static caravan was loaded on to a low loader and stolen. (SWNS)
A 72-year-old widow was left homeless after thieves stole her fully-furnished 40ft static caravan, driving away with it.
Sonia McColl’s ten-tonne static home was being moved from Warwickshire to her daughter’s home in North Devon where it would be used as a ‘granny annexe’ when it was parked at a haulage yard to be fitted out. But thieves broke into the yard and lifted the caravan off its base, swung it onto a low loader and drove off. McColl, who was made an OBE in 2014 for campaign work, was not insured and was left with only the curtains she planned to fit in her new home.
Sonia McColl was left homeless after the theft of the caravan. (SWNS)
The thieves – travelling showman Stewart Gregory, 43, from Normandy, Surrey, and haulage worker Darren Beasley, 47 – were tracked down, though the home was never recovered. Gregory denied theft but was found guilty after a trial at Exeter Crown Court.
Beasley had earlier admitted the same charge and both will be sentenced next month. : Villagers outraged as 110-year-old church bells silenced after single complaint McColl said the verdict brings an end “four years of hell” which had seen her having to stay with friends before supporters helped raise money for her to find new accommodation.
She said: “At last; after almost four years; suffering homelessness, a lot of stress, anxiety, insults, defamation of character and having to fight every step of the way for justice, the verdict is guilty.”
The caravan was fully furnished ready for McColl to use as a ‘granny annexe’ at her daughter’s. (SWNS)
She added: “I will be there and will read out my impact statement before sentencing – and I can’t wait to see their wicked evil faces in the dock. “This has been such a long road – but made so much easier by my amazing family, friends and so many wonderful park home residents.
“Although I admit to being very tired; I hope this verdict sends a clear message to anyone who might attempt to damage/hurt a park home resident. “More importantly I hope this verdict will go some way to help any resident faced with similar problems. Just dig your heels in, fight and refuse to allow any one to blight your life.”
McColl was left with just the curtains that she planned to fit in the caravan. (SWNS)
The court heard the theft of the GBP30,000 home took place some time between 6pm on 22 November, 2017 and 6am the following morning. Gregory’s Iveco trailer unit was caught on CCTV removing the static caravan and mobile phone data showed he had driven from his home in Surrey for the theft.
Traffic cameras tracked the trailer moving across the country but the static home was never recovered. Gregory denied the charges and claimed he lent his phone and truck to someone else.
McColl, the founder of the Park Home Owners Justice Campaign, was made an OBE for her campaign for a change in the law to stop unscrupulous mobile home site owners from blocking and selling homes. Speaking at the time of the theft, she said she had received death threats about her campaigning.
Gregory and Beasley are due to be sentenced at Exeter Crown Court on 2 July.
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