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Widow left homeless after thieves drove off with her £30,000 caravan

Widow left homeless after thieves drove off with her £30,000 caravan
Two thieves drove off with an entire static caravan (Pictures: SWNS)

Two thieves literally left a widow homeless after driving away with her 10-tonne caravan, a court heard.

Sonia McColl, 72, lost her home when the crooks broke into a haulage yard and lifted the fully furnished 40ft house trailer off its base, swung it onto a low loader and made off.

She was not insured and was left with just the new curtains she wanted to hang up. It was being moved to her daughter’s place in North Devon and had stopped off to be fitted out.

Travelling showman Stewart Gregory, 43, from Surrey, and haulage worker Darren Beasley, 43, from Devon, stole the £30,000 caravan while it was parked up, Exeter Crown Court heard.

Gregory denied theft but was found guilty after trial, while Beasley had earlier admitted the same charge. Both will be sentenced next month.

Ms McColl, who was made an OBE in 2014 for her campaign work to safeguard park home owners’ rights, said the convictions bring to an end ‘four years of hell’.

She said at the time of the theft: ‘I’m devastated and shocked. I still am, I’m numb. They’ve taken everything I’ve got.’

Speaking after Gregory’s trial, she said she is now looking forward to going to court to see the thieves’ ‘wicked evil faces in the dock’.

FILE PHOTO - The ?30k static caravan which was stolen. See SWNS story SWPLhome. Two thieves literally left a widow homeless after they stole her entire ten tonne static caravan 'granny flat' home, a court heard. Sonia McColl, 72, lost her home when the crooks broke into a yard and lifted the fully furnished 40ft property off its base, swung it onto a low loader and drove off. It was being moved from Warwickshire to Sonia's daughters home in North Devon to be used as a granny annexe and had stopped at a haulage yard to be fitted out. But while in situ, travelling showman Stewart Gregory, 43, from Normandy, Surrey, stole it with the help of Darren Beasley, 47, a worker at TS Haulage in Willand, Devon.
The thieves stole Ms McColl’s entire 10-tonne static caravan (Picture: SWNS)
FILE PHOTO - Sonia McColl who had her whole home stolen.See SWNS story SWPLhome. Two thieves literally left a widow homeless after they stole her entire ten tonne static caravan 'granny flat' home, a court heard. Sonia McColl, 72, lost her home when the crooks broke into a yard and lifted the fully furnished 40ft property off its base, swung it onto a low loader and drove off. It was being moved from Warwickshire to Sonia's daughters home in North Devon to be used as a granny annexe and had stopped at a haulage yard to be fitted out. But while in situ, travelling showman Stewart Gregory, 43, from Normandy, Surrey, stole it with the help of Darren Beasley, 47, a worker at TS Haulage in Willand, Devon.
Sonia McColl said the convictions ended ‘four years of hell’ (Picture: Sonia McColl/SWNS)

Ms McColl said: ‘At last, after almost four years of 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.

‘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 heals in, fight and refuse to allow anyone to blight your life.

‘I was frightened and it was difficult but I refused to listen to threats about giving up the justice campaign. Once again my very sincere thanks for your support.’

FILE PHOTO - Inside the ?30k static caravan which was stolen.See SWNS story SWPLhome. Two thieves literally left a widow homeless after they stole her entire ten tonne static caravan 'granny flat' home, a court heard. Sonia McColl, 72, lost her home when the crooks broke into a yard and lifted the fully furnished 40ft property off its base, swung it onto a low loader and drove off. It was being moved from Warwickshire to Sonia's daughters home in North Devon to be used as a granny annexe and had stopped at a haulage yard to be fitted out. But while in situ, travelling showman Stewart Gregory, 43, from Normandy, Surrey, stole it with the help of Darren Beasley, 47, a worker at TS Haulage in Willand, Devon.
The caravan was fully-furnished (Picture: SWNS)
FILE PHOTO - Inside the ?30k static caravan which was stolen. See SWNS story SWPLhome. Two thieves literally left a widow homeless after they stole her entire ten tonne static caravan 'granny flat' home, a court heard. Sonia McColl, 72, lost her home when the crooks broke into a yard and lifted the fully furnished 40ft property off its base, swung it onto a low loader and drove off. It was being moved from Warwickshire to Sonia's daughters home in North Devon to be used as a granny annexe and had stopped at a haulage yard to be fitted out. But while in situ, travelling showman Stewart Gregory, 43, from Normandy, Surrey, stole it with the help of Darren Beasley, 47, a worker at TS Haulage in Willand, Devon.
It has never been recovered (Picture: SWNS)

The theft took place sometime between 6pm on November 22 and 6am on November 23, 2017.

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 home was never recovered.

Gregory denied the charges and claimed he lent his phone and truck to a mystery Eastern European man named Ash.

Ms McColl is the founder of the Park Home Owners Justice Campaign and was made an OBE for her tireless campaigning to protect home owner rights.

Her campaign got the law changed to stop unscrupulous mobile home site owners from blocking and selling homes.

Both defendants will return to Exeter Crown Court on July 2 to be sentenced.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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