A DESPERATE crook claimed he tried to steal tools in a bid to get money to help bring up his 15-year-old daughter.

Dean Leeks, of Aveley, was spared immediate jail after admitting theft and handling stolen goods in Basildon.

The 42-year-old was one of three people who broke into a lorry in Zenith Business Park, in Paycocke Road on June 25.

The three were discovered in the midst of the burglary by two police officers before getting into a stolen Ford Focus and attempted to flee.

However, the officers in the patrol car managed to block in the Focus to stop it escaping.

At Basildon Crown Court on Friday, Noel Casey, prosecuting, said: “There was a degree of struggle from all three people in the car to resist the officers.

“The defendant, who was driving, refused to let go of the wheel or open the windows despite the officers’ instructions.

“During this time, the two other people made good their escape from the police.

“He was revving the engine and the officers feared he may drive off even if they managed to get in.

“He then stalled the Focus causing it to collide with the police vehicle.”

Leeks was handcuffed by the officers, one of whom suffered minor injuries when trying to break the windows of the car.

Inside the Focus, a baseball bat, angle grinders, flares and other tools were found and seized.

The other two people remain at large.

Mitigating, Craig Harris told Judge Samantha Leigh that Leeks is the sole carer for his 15-year-old daughter and had made the attempt to steal the tools because “he was desperate” for money to help care for her.

Mr Harris said Leeks, of Cavendish Gardens, Aveley, is “a responsible father” and that he did not lead the operation of the burglary but was guilty by joint enterprise.

Judge Leigh chose to defer Leeks’ sentencing until January 31 to prove to her he could continue being a responsible parent.

Judge Leigh ordered Leeks to pay £500 to the two officers, who she also praised for putting their safety at risk to stop him.

He had his sentence deferred for six months after admitting theft and handling stolen goods in Basildon.