An unlicensed and uninsured driver who smashed into a Lincolnshire level crossing causing £45,000 worth of damage was jailed for 12 months on Tuesday.

Romanian national Tudorel-Dorinel Carmocanu had taken the car from a friend without permission when he collided with the Park Road level crossing in Spalding during the early hours of October 26 last year.

Carmocanu, 26, of Holbeach Road, Spalding, admitted charges of aggravated vehicle taking and criminal damage to property.

Lincoln Crown Court heard the damage caused to the level crossing was estimated at £46,160 to rectify by Network Rail.

Steven Gosnell, prosecuting, said Carmocanu drove the Renault Megane at speeds of up to 60-70mph in built up areas of Spalding.

The court was told Carmocanu had taken the car from where it was parked outside Central Tyres in Spalding after obtaining the keys from a mutual friend of the owner.

Mr Gosnell said Carmocanu filled up the car with £10 worth of petrol before heading up Park Road and colliding with the level crossing.

The car caused damage to barriers and fencing on both sides of the crossing before hitting a lampost and coming to rest within the railway boundary.

An eye witness woken by the 4.50am crash saw Carmocanu appearing to take a photo of the vehicle and leaving the scene.

Police attended and tracked down the registered owner of the car who told them Carmocanu had confessed to crashing his car.

During interview Carmocanu, who listened to the hearing via a Romanian interpreter, accepted taking the car for no particular reason after having a drink.

David Eager, mitigating, said Carmocanu was a hard working shift worker and father who could not explain “this moment of madness.”

Mr Eager told the court Carmocanu was also of previous good character.

Passing sentence Judge Simon Hirst said the cost of damage caused to the level crossing was in excess of £45,000.

The judge added that Carmocanu was fortunate not to have hit any other cars or pedestrians.

“Park Road was a built up area with a speed limit of 30mph. You lost control,” the judge told him.

Carmocanu was also banned from driving for two and half years, and must take an extended retest.

A former Tory council leader who pocketed almost £30,000 from local Conservative associations and the party — including payments from members attending a Boris Johnson speech — was jailed for 14 months on Thursday.

Giles McNeill, 39, who was Conservative leader of West Lindsey District Council and an electoral agent for long serving Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh, admitted eight theft, fraud and forgery offences totalling £29,770.

Lincoln Crown Court heard McNeill paid dozens of fraudulent cheques into his own bank account and kept members payments from 22 party fundraising events over a five year period.

This included paying over £4,000 meant for constituency association coffers into his own bank account the day after Boris Johnson was guest speaker at a Tory party fundraiser in March 2018.

Andrew Scott, prosecuting, said McNeill was paid £450 a month to act as the Organising Secretary for Gainsborough Constituency Conservative Association from 2010.

Giles McNeill arriving at Lincoln Magistrates Court accompanied by his father. | Photo: Daniel Jaines for The Lincolnite

He also held other senior roles with the Lincolnshire Area Conservative Association and the West Lindsey District Council Constituency Conservative Association.

Mr Scott said: “Over a period of six years between 2014 and 2020 he defrauded the local Conservative associations and individual members out of almost £30,000.”

In total McNeill admitted the theft of £9,365 from the Conservative Party. Mr Scott said McNeill also made out 93 cheques on which a signature was forged.

This included 35 cheques relating to a loss over £8,500 to the Gainsborough Constituency Conservative Association, and 25 cheques relating to a loss of over to £4,600 to the West Lindsey District Council Constituency Conservative Association.

McNeill also admitted making credit transfers into his own account from the Gainsborough Constituency Conservative Association and setting up a PayPal account to siphon off over £2,000 from the organisation.

The court heard McNeill’s actions began to be uncovered when Tracey Coulson succeeded McNeill’s brother as the treasurer of Gainsborough Constituency Conservative Association in 2019.

It was discovered cheque payments for the association’s Market Rasen office had bounced and when McNeill resigned as Organisng Secretary in August 2020, Miss Coulson found the accounts “in a mess.”

Miss Coulson discovered McNeill had applied for an “inappropriate” Covid recovery grant of £10,000 from the Treasury which hid other holes in the accounts.

She was also unaware of a £6,000 loan obtained by McNeill from Conservative Central Office.

In a victim impact statement Miss Coulson said McNeill’s actions had caused huge reputational damage to the party.

During interview McNeill admitted he began gambling in 2013 and this became acute by 2016 – but he also insisted others were happy for him to “do the donkeys work,” and not to take any responsibility.

Hal Ewing, mitigating, said references from his fellow councillors, and MP Sir Edward Leigh, for whom he worked closely, made it clear he was a hardworking and talented politician.

“He went into politics for the best of motives,” Mr Ewing said.

McNeil, of The Chestnuts, Nettleham, near Lincoln, admitted one charge of theft from the Conservative Party, one charge of using a false instrument, and six charges of fraud by abuse of position.

Passing sentence Judge John Pini QC told McNeill his fall from grace had been steep.

The judge said: “If the electorate can not trust those elected then politics breaks down. Your conduct was a gross breach of trust over a number of years.”

McNeill was leader of West Lindsey District Council from May 2019 to September 2020, when he announced he was stepping back from the role for “personal reasons”.

He also left his role as communications manager for Gainsborough Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh.

He remained a sitting councillor for the Nettleham ward prior until his resignation last month.

Giles McNeill, the former leader of West Lindsey District Council, has been jailed for 14 months at Lincoln Crown Court after admitting fraud offences.

Mr McNeill, the ex-Conservative councillor, admitted eight theft, fraud and forgery charges totalling £31,201.04 from his own party over a six year period.

He was sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court on Thursday, November 25 to a jail term of 14 months. This comes after he resigned from his role in September 2020 for what he described as “personal reasons”.

Read the full details of the court case here.

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