Homeless St Albans thief and fraudster given two years in prison

John Fitzgerald

John Fitzgerald - Credit: Archant

A man who stole and used bank cards in St Albans and Hatfield has been jailed for two years.

John Fitzgerald, 41, of no fixed abode, was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court today for drug possession, having a knife in public, dangerous driving, theft and fraud.

Through defence barrister Bernard Eaton, Fitzgerald said he wanted to go to prison: “I have got no support, nowhere to live and nobody to rely upon. I could not manage in such a situation and I need to be in prison so I can get myself absolutely clear-headed.”

In May 2017, Fitzgerald was in a ten-minute high-speed police chase which finished on Hazeldine Road in London Colney.

He reached 50mph in 30mph zones in a stolen Vauxhall Corsa and swerved across the road into oncoming traffic.

When he was eventually apprehended, Fitzgerald was in possession of heroin.

Charles Judge, for the prosecution, said Fitzgerald showed a “deliberate disregard for the safety of others”.

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In September this year, he was caught on CCTV spending £28.89 in Tesco and £34.04 in McDonald’s with a stolen bank card.

Police also found him with a number of pinched cards when he was stopped between Harpenden and Redbourn in October - one of which had been taken from a car in Redbourn.

Fitzgerald was also carrying a knife which he claimed to officers was used for fishing.

He has 23 previous offences dating back to 1994, including theft, fraud and possession of controlled substances.

Mr Eaton noted that from 2008 to 2015, Fitzgerald lived on the straight and narrow. He fell back into crime when his relationship ended and he lost access to his children.

Before being remanded in custody for these latest offences, Fitzgerald was supporting himself by begging and stealing.

Judge Philip Grey gave Fitzgerald a total of two years in prison and disqualified him from driving for two years and 11 months.

Judge Grey said the theft and fraud caused “justifiable anger and upset” for victims, who will now feel “less safe and secure in their day to day lives”.

Adding: “The dangerous driving put a large number of untimely people in terrible risk. You were not in control of that vehicle and you could have caused serious injury or killed other people on the road.”