The bizarre excuses criminals tried to get away with in 2020

Once they are accused of an offence many criminals choose to give up the fight immediately and cut their losses.

But there are always some who try to explain their way out of it.

From the absurd to the nonsensical, these are some of the excuses we’ve heard while covering court cases over the last 12 months.

‘I’m not a drug dealer but I did sell four wraps of heroin to a police officer’

Cardiff Crown Court
Cardiff Crown Court
(Image: Media Wales)

The defendant: Delroy Lewis, 50, from Clarence Place, Newport, pleaded guilty to four counts of supplying heroin. He had 41 previous convictions including 12 for drug-related offences

What happened? Lewis was caught after selling four wraps of heroin to an undercover officer, known as Jack, during the month-long Operation Solar, targeting drug dealing in Newport. Although he admitted selling the four wraps to the officer he insisted that didn’t make him a drug dealer.

The defendant’s account: Before a judge sentenced him Lewis told the court: “That doesn’t really mean I’m a dealer. Yes, I’m a user. I’ve been a user for a very long time but I’m not a dealer and I never have been.”

What did the judge say? Judge Richard Williams asked the defendant if he disputed the facts of the case. After being given time to speak with his defence barrister Suzanne Payne she told the court there was no basis of plea and the defendant did not dispute the prosecution’s case.

The sentence: Lewis was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison. He will have to serve half of that behind bars before being released on licence.

‘I was “clucking” for a hit after my release from prison’

Kade Reynolds
(Image: Gwent Police)

The defendant: Kade Reynolds, 26, from Somerton Park in Newport, admitted five counts of supplying heroin and one count of supplying cocaine.

What happened? Undercover officers met Reynolds in Cardiff Road in Newport on November 7 last year where he sold them a 1.32g wrap of heroin for £50. He further sold heroin to officers on November 11, November 22, November 28, and December 17, as well as crack cocaine on November 28. He was on licence at the time of the offences. When he was arrested at his home on June 3 he replied to the caution: “Yeah okay. Can I have a fag first?”

The defendant’s account: Ben Waters, defending Reynolds, said his client did not receive a methadone prescription when he was released from prison and: “To use the vernacular, he was clucking.”

The sentence: Judge Richard Williams sent Reynolds to prison for three years and 10 months.

‘I was short of cash’

Nicolae Rostas was jailed for 27 months
Nicolae Rostas was jailed for 27 months
(Image: Gwent Police)

The defendant: Nicolae Rostas, 32, from Ingram Road in Croydon, admitted a charge of theft but denied one of burglary, which lay on file.

What happened? Dad-of-four Rostas entered Booker Wholesale in Cwmbran at 4.15pm on January 9 along with two women. CCTV showed Rostas handing packs of cigarettes, worth £4,598.60, to the women before leaving in a silver Ford people carrier without paying.

The defendant’s account: When arrested Rostas did not respond to the caution. When he was interviewed he said he could not remember what he was doing on the day in question. Dhaneshwar Sharma, defending, told the court his client has four children and committed the offence because he was “short of finances”.

The sentence: Rostas was sent to prison for 27 months.

‘I was only visiting the cannabis factory for a bath’

(Image: Gwent Police)

The defendant: Karwan Kareem, 29, of no fixed address, admitted two counts of producing cannabis. He entered a basis of plea stating he was a “gardener” and was paid £300 for his work.

What happened? When Gwent Police were called to reports of an assault at a property in Corporation Road, Newport, on January 5 officers could see Kareem inside but he refused to open the door. After forcing entry they found no evidence of an assault but there were 190 mature cannabis plants in six rooms along with a bag of dried cannabis. Kareem escaped but was arrested further along Corporation Road.

Nine days later officers executed a search warrant at another property in Corporation Road, this time finding 132 plants. When they went into an upstairs bedroom they saw Kareem on the roof outside climbing down.

The cannabis factories were in Corporation Road in Newport
(Image: Crown Prosecution Service)

The defendant’s account: Following his second arrest Kareem gave a prepared statement claiming he had been allowed into the second property to have a bath and had no knowledge of the cannabis.

What did the judge say? Judge Jeremy Jenkins said: “The professional nature of the business and the sheer extent of the enterprise is too serious to be dealt with by anything short of immediate custody.”

The sentence: Kareem was jailed for 16 months.

‘I was at Barry Island all day’

Joseph O’Regan
(Image: South Wales Police)

The defendant: Joseph O’Regan, 31, of Burnham Avenue in Llanrumney, admitted possessing cannabis and a prohibited weapon in breach of a community order and suspended sentence.

What happened? When police officers asked O’Regan about a smashed window at his former partner’s home he told them the cuts on his hands were actually from labouring.

Prosecutors told the court O’Regan turned up at the address in Thornhill in April 2019 demanding to be let in. He shouted “horrible comments” about his ex and smashed her door and window.

When officers searched his home they found a CS gas canister in the driver’s door pocket of his Renault Clio along with cannabis.

The defendant’s account: Officers found O’Regan sitting in his car where he claimed it was a “malicious complaint” as he had been at Barry Island all day.

The sentence: Judge Nicola Jones sent O’Regan to prison for 13 months and made an order for the CS gas canister and drugs to be destroyed.

‘I downloaded the first one by accident’

Hands on a computer keyboard
Jeffrey Rees said he downloaded his first child abuse image ‘by accident’

The defendant: Jeffrey Rees, 62, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to three counts of possessing indecent images of children.

What happened? Rees was found with 13,632 images of child abuse on his computer and the SD card of his tablet after police searched his home in Cardiff. The images had been deleted but could be recovered. There was evidence he had searched for the term “pre-teen” and used peer-to-peer sites, applying a privacy setting so other users would not see his history. Prosecutors said the offending happened over a 10-year period between 2009 and 2019.

The defendant’s account: During police interview Rees accepted downloading the images but denied sharing them. He told officers his offending began when he “accidentally” downloaded a child abuse image.

What did the judge say? Judge David Wynn Morgan told Rees: “You admitted you have done wrong and started to do something about it.”

The sentence: Rees was given a 24-month community order requiring him to complete 30 days of rehabilitation and 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also made the subject of a five-year sexual harm prevention order and must also register as a sex offender for five years.

‘It was the cyclist’s fault I hit him’

Driver Geraint Coombes was using the Spotify music app on his phone when he knocked down a cyclist
Driver Geraint Coombes was using the Spotify music app on his phone when he knocked down a cyclist
(Image: Gwent Police)

The defendant: Geraint Coombes, 32, of The Avenue, Trethomas, Caerphilly, pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

What happened? Coombes was changing the song on his Land Rover’s sound system using an app on his phone when he hit Edward Taylor on the A469 near Caerphilly. He drove away and left the gravely injured man in the road. But when former soldier Coombes returned to the scene he threw his mobile away into the bushes and told his victim he had been the one at fault for the crash.

The defendant’s account: In his initial account Coombes told police he had given the cyclist “plenty of room” when passing him but had then heard the sound of glass smashing and had seen the cyclist “wobbling”.

After trying to pass off another mobile phone as his he admitted he had discarded the phone in bushes near the crash site.

What did the judge say? Judge Richard Williams told Coombes: “Your car struck Mr Taylor and the reason you struck him is because you were driving dangerously.”

He said Coombes’ “first instinct” had been to drive away and “attempt to avoid responsibility” for what he had done by “cynically” trying to suggest to the victim that the collision had been his fault.

The sentence: Coombes was sentenced to 27 months in prison and disqualified from driving for two years with the ban extended to take account of time he serves in prison. He must pass an extended driving test before regaining his licence.

‘I stole drugs from a dealer and had to pay him back’

James Hutton and Katie Hawker
James Hutton and Katie Hawker
(Image: South Wales Police)

The defendants: James Hutton, 21, of Priory Road, Hastings, East Sussex, admitted possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to supply, supplying heroin and cocaine, and possession of criminal property.

Katie Hawker, 37, of Clyne Court, Sketty Park, Swansea, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of heroin and cocaine.

What happened? Police officers stopped James Hutton and Katie Hawker while they were driving around the Uplands area of Swansea because they appeared to be lost.

But 21-year-old Hutton became “irate” when talking to officers and suddenly ran off. When police caught up with him he was found in possession of 25 wraps of heroin, 15 wraps of crack cocaine, £411 in cash, and a crack pipe. Hawker, 37, was also searched but nothing was found.

The defendant’s account: In an interview with police Hutton initially said he had stolen drugs from a dealer and was now being forced to work to pay off the debt. He said he had sold £300-worth of drugs that afternoon and was planning to sell the remaining wraps he had.

What did the judge say? Judge Huw Rees said he appreciated life had thrown up “personal difficulties and tragedies” for both defendants but he said their sentences would make them realise how “pernicious” it could be to traffic Class A drugs.

The sentence: Hutton was sentenced to three years in prison while Hawker received a 20-month sentence.

‘I paid £20 for oral sex I didn’t end up getting’

Dean Ley
Dean Ley
(Image: South Wales Police)

The defendant: Dean Ley, 53, of Vincent Street, Sandfields, Swansea, pleaded guilty to making threats to damage property by fire and burglary.

What happened? On September 3 Ley was seen stood on the street outside a block of flats “shouting aggressively” at residents.

The 53-year-old was heard threatening to burn down the flats unless they stopped “hiding” a woman named Kirsty.

Swansea Crown Court heard the threats of arson went on for some time with Ley trying to gain entry to the block through the communal front door.

The defendant’s account: When the police arrived Ley told officers he had paid a woman £20 for oral sex but she had run away with the cash. He said he had seen her going into the flats and he wanted to get his money back.

What did the judge say? Judge Huw Rees said Ley had been “motivated by revenge” when he made the threats and that it must have been terrifying for residents of the flats.

The sentence: Judge Rees sentenced Ley to 18 months in prison for the charge of making threats. He also received a consecutive six-month sentence for a burglary he committed four days after the incident at the flats.

‘I was looking for the cannabis in my trousers’

(Image: WalesOnline)

The defendant: Lloyd Jones, 21, of Dalton Close, Merthyr Tydfil, pleaded guilty to a charge of exposure.

What happened? Jones’ victim noticed him staring at her from across the carriage after he boarded a train at Cardiff Queen Street. When the 21-year-old moved closer to the woman prosecutors said she realised Jones had his hands down his trousers and was masturbating while looking at her. She later told officers Jones had a “strange” look on his face.

She alighted at Pontypridd where she informed a station guard and British Transport Police.

The defendant’s account: After his victim informed the police Jones said: “No love I was looking for weed down my trousers.” A search was then conducted but no cannabis was found in Jones’ possession.

What did the judge say? Judge Geraint Walters told Jones: “It seems that while high on drugs you targeted a lone female in the carriage and exposed yourself and then decided to masturbate in her presence.” He said Jones had a “pretty uninspiring start” to life but was prepared to give him “this chance”.

The sentence: Jones was given a six-month rehabilitation activity requirement and will have to sign the sex offenders register for five years.

‘He tried to rob me’

Kyle Gregory
Kyle Gregory
(Image: Dyfed-Powys Police)

The defendant: Kyle Gregory, 25, of Embankment Road, Llanelli, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm.

What happened? On August 27 Gregory was walking along New Dock Road in the town when he launched an unprovoked attack on a man who had been to the chemist to collect his medication.

The man later told officers he saw Gregory walking towards him but the next thing he knew he was waking up on the pavement in a pool of blood. Members of the public ran to the man’s aid but Gregory walked off.

The defendant’s account: The police identified Gregory from CCTV in the area but before they could track him down he rang to report that he had been the victim of an attempted robbery at knifepoint. He claimed he had punched his victim in self-defence.

Gregory maintained this version of events during his interview at Llanelli police station that same evening

What did the judge say? Judge Paul Thomas QC told Gregory he had carried out a “cowardly, blindside attack” before concocting a “despicable lie” in order to shift the blame to his victim.

The sentence: Gregory was sentenced to two years in prison. He was also made the subject of a five-year restraining order banning him from contacting his victim.

‘I crashed my car into my own house because I had a row with my partner’

Michael Sudbury
Michael Sudbury
(Image: Dyfed-Powys Police)

The defendant: Michael Sudbury, 46, of Glyn Hafan, Llangwm, Haverfordwest, pleaded guilty to criminal damage being reckless as to whether life was endangered and to driving with excess alcohol.

What happened? Sudbury caused more than £23,000 of damage to his rented home when he drove his car into the front of it. His partner, whom he had been rowing with throughout the day, was still in the living room and on the phone to the police when he drove the car into an external wall of the house.

The defendant’s account: Sudbury wrote a note before he committed the crime saying that what he was about to do was premeditated and was the result of an argument and that he wanted to go to prison. When police arrived he told officers he “drove through the f***ing wall” after losing his temper.

What did the judge say? Judge Catherine Richards told Sudbury it was clear he had lost his temper on the day in question, acted selfishly, and put the safety of someone he professes to care about in danger.

The sentence: Sudbury was sentenced to two years in prison.

‘I was shining the laser at the garden fence not the police helicopter’

Matthew Davies, 33, from Caerphilly, shone a laser beam at a police helicopter from his back garden
(Image: Gwent Police)

The defendant: Matthew Davies, 33, of Mornington Meadows, Caerphilly, pleaded guilty to shining or directing a laser beam onto a police helicopter.

What happened? Helicopter pilot Robert Humphries and three other officers were called out by Gwent Police at 3am on March 17 to assist with an investigation into a burglary. But during the operation Mr Humphries said he was distracted by a “persistent and deliberately targeted” laser beam which focused on the aircraft for between 15 and 20 minutes. The crew had to don laser goggles and the pilot had to break off the operation to reposition the helicopter.

The officers were able to track the location of the beam’s source using infra-red and heat detection equipment. It was established the beam was coming from Davies’ house.

The defendant’s account: Officers arrived at Davies’ address and saw him continuing to direct the laser towards the helicopter while stood in his garden. Upon his arrest Davies said: “I did not aim it at the sky.” In interview he accepted the laser was shone in the direction of the helicopter but claimed he was having a cigarette and was shining the laser at his garden fence, which bounced towards the aircraft.

What did the judge say? Judge Michael Fitton QC told Davies: “You were putting individuals in the aircraft at risk of personal harm. The vision of the pilot was impaired and there was significant risk of an accident.”

The sentence: Davies was sentenced to seven months in prison.

‘I didn’t realise I wasn’t entitled to those benefits’

Susan Hayes outside Cardiff Crown Court
Susan Hayes outside Cardiff Crown Court
(Image: Wales News Service)

The defendant: Susan Hayes, 63, of Silvertree Walk, East Riding of Yorkshire (formerly of Ferndale, Rhondda), pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify of a change in circumstances.

What happened? Hayes claimed employment support allowance (ESA) which she was not entitled to for a period of six years after failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about a change in her employment.

Although he claim was initially genuine from February 14, 2013, to February 8, 2019, Hayes claimed a total of £37,500 – an amount she was not entitled to.

The defendant’s account: Defence barrister Scott Bowen said his client had not realised she was not entitled to the benefits and had notified the DWP after she became aware of the matter.

What did the judge say? Judge Jeremy Jenkins told Hayes: “There is an element of greed because since 2013 your bi-monthly payment was in the region of £1,300.

“That money is for people who need it and those who do not qualify for it deprive others who are entitled to that money.

“These days money is extremely tight, especially for the public purse. What you were doing was depriving those who are worse off than you and have legitimate claims to that sum.”

The sentence: Hayes was sentenced to an 18-moth community order and 100 hours of unpaid work and she was required to pay £450 in court costs.

‘It was somebody else’s stun gun’

The incident happened in Windsor Road, Neath
The incident happened in Windsor Road, Neath
(Image: Jonathan Myers/Media Wales)

The defendant: Simon Morris, 27, who had a “care of” address of Lime Grove, Cimla, Neath, admitted possession of a stun gun and possession of Class B and C drugs.

What happened? On April 2 this year the manager of a Jobcentre in Neath town centre was locking up the premises when he heard a series of “loud cracking sounds”. The defendant was seen across the road at a bus shelter passing a black object around a group of half a dozen other people. Morris was seen discharging the item – a stun gun disguised as a torch – including into the leg of one of his friends.

The defendant’s account: When the police arrived Morris initially tried to hide the stun gun in a nearby tree before claiming it belonged to someone else. When searched Morris was also found to be in possession of small quantities of cannabis and Valium.

What did the judge say? Recorder Christopher Clee QC told Morris that a stun gun is classes as a firearm and possessing one was a serious matter. He said the defendant was “showing off” with the device and “whilst serious this behaviour is best described as stupid”.

The sentence: Morris was made the subject of a 12-month community order and ordered to complete a rehabilitation course.

‘My nan wouldn’t give me any more money’

Leon Owens
Leon Owens
(Image: South Wales Police)

The defendant: Leon Owens, 23, of the L&A Outdoor Centre, Goytre, admitted assaulting his 82-year-old grandmother.

What happened? On March 13 Owens repeatedly kicked his grandmother, who had raised him since he’d been a child, after she refused to give him more money for alcohol. The 82-year-old, who had already given Owens £10 earlier the same day, was kicked for about five minutes resulting in heavy bleeding from her legs.

When he left the property the pensioner followed her grandson because she feared he would get into trouble due to his intoxication.

The defendant’s account: When police went to Owens’ door to arrest him he came to the window and refused to answer the door. At his sentencing hearing Owens’ defence barrister Dan Griffiths said his client accepted he lashed out at his grandmother after she refused to give him money. Mr Griffiths said: “To behave in that way to his grandmother who raised him is beyond belief and he is struggling to come to terms with what he has done.”

What did the judge say? Judge Geraint Walters told Owens: “Your 82-year-old grandmother brought you up. Your advocate used the expression it ‘beggars belief’ and indeed he is right about that. It is hard to find any rational explanation for the way a 23-year-old man behaves towards the person who has given him 23 years of her life to bring you up.

“The heart of it is a drinking problem and usually underlying a drinking problem is another problem. The way you tackle your drinking problem is to tackle the other problem. You are determined by the looks of it to make good use of your time in custody and my goodness you need to.”

The sentence: Owens was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

‘I was getting married and I needed the money’

David Roost, pictured, stole industrial batteries in order to pay for his wedding
(Image: Facebook)

The defendant: David Roost, 33, of North Court, Haverfordwest, pleaded guilty to a single count of theft.

What happened? Roost was working as a field engineer for Beacon Comms, a contractor for Vodafone, when he visited a telephone mast on the outskirts of Fishguard and used a universal key to enter a storage area. Industrial batteries were kept inside to be used in the event of a power failure. Roost removed the batteries, worth £16,800, and put electrical insulation tape in their place.

The defendant’s account: During an interview with police Roost accepted he had carried out the theft and had since sold them for scrap value as he was getting married and needed the money. One of the batteries was sold for £2,000.

What did the judge say? Judge Keith Thomas said he felt there was a “degree of planning” involved in Roost’s crime and a breach of trust.

The sentence: Roost was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

‘He was laughing at our expense’

Robert Stuart Brown was sentenced to six years in prison
(Image: Daily Post Wales)

The defendant: Robert Brown, 27, of Fron Uchaf, Colwyn Bay, denied intending to cause grievous bodily harm but was found guilty following a trial.

What happened? Brown was in a pub in Conwy when he claimed another group were making jokes “at our expense” and lashed out at one of them with a glass. Victim William Dunne sustained cuts to the left side of his face which bled profusely.

The defendant’s account: In court Brown said: “I did not try to hit anyone. I swung my arm in panic. It was the last thing I wanted to happen. I did hurt Mr Dunne and I’m sorry. I have felt awful since.”

What did the judge say? Judge Huw Rees said Brown had been found guilty of the offence on “overwhelming evidence”. “This was a forceful blow aimed at a vulnerable part of the body,” he said. “You could have blinded this young man.”

The sentence: Brown was sentenced to six years in prison.

‘The prison officers brought me my meal too late’

Meshaq Saunders' barrister said he had spent 'most of teenage years' going in and out of prison, and does not want to spend his 20s doing the same
Meshaq Saunders
(Image: South Wales Police)

The defendant: Meshaq Saunders, 21, of Parc Prison in Bridgend, pleaded guilty to four counts of assaulting an emergency worker.

What happened? On February 28 last year Saunders was in the serving around of A Wing at HMP Swansea waiting for food. The food ran out and inmates were told fresh supplies would have to be brought from elsewhere in the prison. Saunders was told to go back to his cell and that his meal would be brought to him.

The court heard Saunders had to be carried back to his cell and once back he grabbed a kettle of hot water and threw it over the officers. He also grabbed a mop which he began waving around while threatening to kill them.

The defendant’s account: Ashandti-Jade Walton, defending Saunders, said her client had spent “most of his teenage years” going in and out of prison and did not want to spend his 20s in the same way. She said he was sorry for the assaults on the prison officers and “has a desire to change”.

What did the judge say? Judge Keith Thomas noted Saunders had a “substantial history” of carrying knives, which aggravated the offence.

The sentence: Saunders was sentenced to eight months in prison to run consecutively with the five-year sentence he is already serving. Read the full story here.

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