A SUSPICIOUS Keswick shop worker and his manager helped thwart a would-be thief who tried to snatch two electric bikes valued at £11,000.

Robert Carter, an employee at E-Venture Bikes, Elliot Park, had received a call from an unknown person with a Liverpudlian accent asking about rentals. A booking was made with a name and Liverpool address given, and a TSB account used to make a deposit.

Megan Cox, prosecuting, told Carlisle Crown Court: “On the morning of December 20, 2021, Andrew Graham, the owner, spoke with Mr Carter about the hire.

“Mr Carter was concerned about it. It was agreed that the documents and identification would be checked thoroughly and the normal procedure would be followed.”

Eloi Mergulhao, 28, and another male visited the shop at around 9am. What later transpired to be a false driving licence and fake TSB bank statement were presented.

Two bikes were released for rent. “Mr Graham enquired with both males as to where they were staying and what they were doing,” said Miss Cox. “They advised him it was their intention to go to a camp site at Keswick and cycle at Whinlatter.”

They talked of returning to the site and store the bikes in a rented van overnight.

But suspicions grew when the two males were seen a short time later cycling past the shop and around Booths car park. The males got into a van and headed towards Penrith and then on to the M6 southbound with the manager in pursuit.

Police spotted the van, driven by Mergulhao, and performed a traffic stop. He identified himself and the bikes were found inside the vehicle along with a grinder and a small amount of cannabis.

When brought to court, Mergulhao, of Huskisson Street, Liverpool, admitted fraud by false representation and also drug possession.

Kim Whittlestone, defending, said Mergulhao himself spoke of hitting 'rock bottom' prior to his offending amid personal struggles.

“He was homeless, living on the streets with his dog, who is extremely important to him and who he still has with him,” said Miss Whittlestone. “He has now rebuilt relationships with his family. They are supportive and are here (in court) today.”

He was also seeking to address mental health issues, trying to abstain from drug use and had expressed genuine remorse for the fraud.

Recorder Paul Hodgkinson concluded that there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation, and imposed a 12-month community order. Mergulhao must complete 100 hours’ unpaid work and a two-month, electronically monitored night time curfew. He must also pay the business £280 compensation.

“From the outset it is very clear to me you had the intention of stealing these bikes,” Recorder Hodgkinson told the defendant.

“Quite a mean offence what you did, really.

"In effect you relied on the trust of this shop who were lending bikes out for tourists; an important business in this part of the world. You abused that trust.”