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Man found guilty of stealing dog from a home near Tring

Wilma-1

Published by Charlotte Fisher at 5:37am 21st February 2019.

After a delivery driver stole a dog from a home near Tring he has been ordered to carry out 150 hours' unpaid work.

Levi Pislea took Richard Guttfield's pet Wilma, a miniature schnauzer, when he delivered dog food that had been ordered online.

When Richard, aged 52, discovered 11-month-old Wilma was missing, he and his daughter Emily, 18, searched for four days and nights.

Richard spoke to us last May, just after it happened at the end of April, he told us:

"It was like someone flicked a switch and all of a sudden, nothing else mattered.

"I just had to find Wilma, I was just terrified that she had potentially gone."

His family launched an internet appeal and put up posters in the area around Richard's home in Marsworth. 

Amazon were also contacted by the desperate family.

Man found guilty after stealing dog from home near Tring
Wilma is now safely back home

When Pislea was questioned by FastUK, the company that was delivering parcels for Amazon, he said he knew nothing about a missing dog.

But an App was viewed that showed Pislea walking around Mr Guttfield's address.

The logistics manager went to Pislea's home in Barnet, where he handed over the dog.

On Tuesday, Levi Pislea, of Beaconsfield Road in Barnet, was convicted of theft by magistrates at High Wycombe. 

Prosecutor Sophie Stannard said Wilma, who was valued at £800, was taken from Mr Guttfield's home on 27th April last year.

She said

"Mr Guttfield was in an outbuilding with a friend and was expecting a delivery from Amazon.

"He lives in a house with a long drive and there is a large plastic chest by the gate with instructions for Amazon deliveries to be put in it.

"On this occasion the parcel was left in his porch rather than the box."

Giving evidence, Richard told the magistrates:

"On that day I was expecting a delivery of dog food, ironically.

"I have two dogs. They are called Fred and Wilma. They can get into the back garden from the house, but it is securely fenced. They can't get into the front garden or onto the drive.

"I saw the delivery in the porch when I opened the front door. Fred was on his own. They were always at the door together. It was unusual - it had never happened before. I went around the house looking for Wilma and didn't find her. I checked in the garden - everywhere I could."

Richard said he and a friend searched the area.

His daughter Emily and friends organised a search and there were appeals on Facebook and through lost dog charities.

Wilma was returned to him on the Tuesday.

He said:

"When she was returned she was in a bad state. She did not recognise us. She is fine now."

In the witness box Pislea, who was aided by a Romanian interpreter, said:

"I did not notice a place to leave the parcel. I went to the door. Nobody answered.

"I left the parcel between the two entrance doors. I did not notice any dog."

He said he did find a dog on the road and asked a woman jogger if it belonged to her.

He claimed he had no intention to steal Wilma, but said she was walking towards the canal and he was concerned for her safety.

He said he took her home and intended to hand her into a police station on a day off.

Finding him guilty, the chairman of the magistrates' bench Irvin Thobourne said:

"You lied on several occasions to Mr Souza.

"You took no steps to make inquiries about owner of dog.

"You knew a family were looking for the dog."

Sentencing Pislea to a 12 month Community Order with a condition that he carries out 150 hours' unpaid work and pays £705 court costs, Mr Thobourne said:

"This was very distressing for the owner and his family. We have heard the dog was also distressed.

"It was a very serious offence."

A spokesperson for Amazon said:

"At the time Amazon described the incident as inexcusable and said the independent delivery services provider had immediately removed the driver from delivering Amazon parcels."

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