Burglar Sentenced To Prison Term For Radio Station Break In

A man who broke into Black Country Radio’s studios and stole thousands of pounds of equipment has been jailed for two years.

Jason John Pettit, from Stourbridge Road in Lye, had earlier denied the burglary but changed his plea to guilty ahead of his trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court this morning.

He was caught after police recognised him from CCTV footage obtained from the station’s former studios at St. John’s Church in Stourbridge.

The 38-year-old, who has more than 120 previous convictions and has been in custody since his arrest last September, was told he will serve around 12 months.

The court heard that he was on licence from prison at the time of his arrest.

Waheer Baber, prosecuting, said the raid had been a "significant" blow to those running the community station.

More than £8,000 of equipment including mixing desks, amplifiers, speakers and specialised broadcast computer keyboards were stolen. None of it has been recovered.

Station Chief Executive (Operations) Alex Totney said: "Our technicians had to be on site for over 18 hours to get us back on the air.

"We were fortunate we were able to lay our hands on some back-up equipment while our listeners raised funds to buy other items we needed."

Recorder Michelle Heeley QC told Pettit that burgling a church was a "special kind of low".

"They were trying to provide a service for the community and you took that away from them," she said.

The court was also told that Pettit had been to the church to visit the Black Country Foodbank, which operated from the same building.

Dave Brownhill, the station's Chief Executive (Finance), said: "He knew all about the good work being done by the church and he went along and broke in. It was a real shock.

"Pettit obviously knew the place because one of the cameras had been moved."

Lewis Perry, defending, said a second man who had not been arrested had been involved in the raid, claiming that "someone else let him in because he had the codes to the doors".

The radio station has since moved to new premises in Brierley Hill.

Mr Totney said: "Obviously we’re satisfied with the outcome. It was a real shock to us all at the time but it really brought out the best in the local community which we try to serve. We had donations from the public totaling nearly one thousand pounds to help replace equipment.

"We’d just like to say a huge thank you to all Black Country Radio listeners for helping us through what was a very dark day and showing us how much they care.

"We’d also like to pay tribute to West Midlands Police who have been absolutely fantastic throughout. We're very grateful for the work they put into the case and they really left no stone unturned.

"It's a bit of a relief that we can now put this to bed and move on."


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