A THIEF seen with stolen batteries and other railway equipment has been given a 12-month community order.

Members of the public spotted John Lee Johnston, 26, and an accomplice with two boxes containing the stolen items and alerted police, said Alison Whiteley, prosecuting.

Johnston, of Volta Street, Selby, denied theft by finding, but failed to attend his trial and was convicted in his absence. He admitted failure to attend court. He was ordered to do 100 hours’ unpaid work and pay £625 prosecution costs and an £85 statutory surcharge.

For him, Mark Partridge said he had found the stolen items and believed they had been abandoned. When he saw police approaching, he ran off. He had mixed up his trial date and then forgotten about it.

York magistrates heard Johnston had 55 previous convictions including 17 for theft.