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Last Updated: Friday, 27 April 2007, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Two jailed over jet engine thefts
Thieves caught red-handed as they drove away from an industrial estate with a stolen jet engine have been jailed.

Rodney Matthews, 47, and Mark Cooper, 37, both from Tooting, London, admitted theft at Canterbury Crown Court.

Cooper had already stolen two engines. The two were taking a third when police caught them near Manston airport, Kent.

Judge Adele Williams said the crimes had "all the hallmarks of professional theft". She jailed Cooper for 30 months in total, and Matthews for 18 months.

He thought he was stealing air conditioning units
Oliver Saxby, defending Cooper

But defence lawyer Oliver Saxby said Cooper had been "out of his depth".

He said the father-of-three was "a simple man of fairly limited intelligence".

And he added: "He didn't realise he was stealing aircraft engines, he thought he was stealing air conditioning units."

Also defending, Catherine Donnelly said Matthews had been hit by tragedy with "three significant bereavements", when his son, mother and best friend died.

Seen on CCTV

The engines belonged to African International Airways and were in a locked compound.

Heavy lifting gear was used to load them onto a lorry, but the defendants, both of Gorse Rise, were caught on CCTV.

Cooper was paid 400 to carry out the thefts, and Donnelly 500, the court heard.

The pair had a string of convictions for theft offences and had been jailed in 2000 for carrying out a burglary together.

Four held over jet engine theft
20 Dec 06 |  England

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