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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Potter book thief sentenced
Donald Parfitt
Parfitt said he found the pages in a car park
The man convicted of stealing pages from the eagerly-awaited Harry Potter book has been handed a community service order.

Donald Parfitt, 44, of Worlingham, Suffolk, had earlier admitted taking the pages from the printing firm Clays, where he was employed as a forklift truck driver.

He said he found the pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in the car park and tried to sell them on to a newspaper for 25,000.

Magistrates in Lowestoft ordered Parfitt to carry out the 180 hours' community service and also pay 55 costs.

The theft first came to light when The Sun newspaper revealed it had been contacted by a man who wanted sell them pages from the book, which will be published on 21 June.

The police were then contacted and Parfitt was arrested in May.

'Remorse'

The defendant told the court he had not planned the theft and had acted impulsively on finding the pages lying in the car park of the printing firm in Bungay, Suffolk.

On sentencing Parfitt, magistrates' chairman Bunty Hunt said they had considered sending him to jail.

"We have considered the serious breach of trust and the high potential value," she said.

JK Rowling
JK Rowling has now written five Harry Potter books
"But the mitigating factors are the remorse that you have shown, your early guilty plea and the fact that it was an impulsive act."

The court heard that security at the printing works had been stepped up because of the secrecy surrounding the fifth instalment of JK Rowling's Harry Potter.

Around the same time as Parfitt discovered the pages, more were found in a nearby field, although Parfitt was not responsible for their appearance.

At an earlier hearing Parfitt's solicitor Richard Mann said his client expected to lose his job over the affair and that his name was now associated with dishonesty.

The release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is set to become one of the biggest publishing events in history.

Online retailer Amazon has reported worldwide pre-orders of more than one million copies, making it its best-seller even before it is launched.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Guy Campbell
"He told police he found the pages lying in a car park"



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