A MAN who stole wheels off a special school minibus was acting on “orders.”

Blackburn magistrates heard David Gregory Taylor carried out the theft to clear a drug debt.

Taylor, 30, of Cog Lane, Burnley, pleaded guilty to theft of seven Ford Transit wheels worth £1,176 belonging to The Rose School.

He was sentenced to 10 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months with a nine-month drug rehabilitation requirement and 15 days rehabilitation activity requirement.

Alex Mann, prosecuting, said there was very clear CCTV showing Taylor carrying out the theft and he had been identified by a member of the public.

“The offence had quite an impact on the school,” said Mrs Mann.

“They had to raise the money to replace the wheels and couldn’t use the bus in the meantime.”

Keith Rennison, defending, said the motivation behind the offence was a drug debt. “He wasn’t given the opportunity to say no,” said Mr Rennison.

“He made no profit from the offence as such, just a reduction in his drug debt.”

Staff came into the Rose School – the only secondary special day school in East Lancashire – that Monday to find the tyres missing.

The minibus, which plays a crucial role in transporting children to and from the premises every day often from other parts of East Lancashire, had been in the school’s locked yard over the weekend when the theft took place.

The school in Greenock Street, Burnley, has 68 children with a range of learning and physical disabilities on its roll.

Business manager at the school, Claire Chamberlain, said at the time that the cruel act not only inconvenienced staff and pupils, but has also disrupted many of the children who struggle with behavioural and emotional needs.

She said: “Children come to our school from all over East Lancashire and many of them rely on the minibuses to get them here.

“They need a routine and something like this happening can have a huge knock-on effect for many of them.

“We had to rush around to organise taxis to get them all here and when they expect to see the minibuses but are instead asked to get in a taxi with a driver they have never seen before, that can be very unnerving.”