A CROOKED councillor who plotted with a career criminal to steal high value agricultural equipment is behind bars.

David Owen, 54, conspired with Lee Powell over the theft of a £9,000 John Deere Gator 4x4 vehicle from a farm in Abergavenny.

Bridgend county councillor David Owen was jailed for three years and Powell, 33, of Waunheulog, Nantyglo, was locked up for two years.

David Owen’s wife, Kelly Owen, was jailed for six months, suspended for 12 months, for perverting the course of justice by destroying incriminating evidence during the police investigation into her husband.

The Owens, of Llewellyn Street, Nantymoel, Bridgend were found guilty after a three-day trial at Newport Crown Court.

David Owen was convicted of conspiracy to steal and handling stolen goods and Kelly Owen, 41, of committing an act intended to pervert the course of justice.

Powell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.

At the trio’s sentencing hearing at Newport Crown Court, Judge Richard Williams told them: “These were cynical offences.”

Referring to Kelly Owen, he said: “This was a deliberate act to destroy evidence to protect her husband.

“There is no evidence that she was coerced. The best that one can say is that it was an act of misguided loyalty.”

Speaking of David Owen and Powell, Judge Williams said: “This was an open-ended conspiracy to steal agricultural equipment of high value, effectively for order.”

During the married couple’s trial, Lucy Crowther, prosecuting, said Powell was arrested in connection with the theft of the 4x4 and his mobile phone was examined by officers.

A telephone number was saved on the device under a contact listed as “Dave new”.

Detectives made inquiries with mobile phone providers and found it belonged to David Owen.

They discovered a number of messages including the discussion of a John Deere Gator off-road vehicle being sent between the two men just days before the theft took place.

David Owen asked Powell: “Got any goodies?” He replied saying he had a “nice Gator lined up buddy” to which the defendant responded, “Brilliant”.

Kelly Owen erased the contents of a mobile phone used by her husband to collude with Powell in the days leading up to the theft.

Miss Crowther told the court Powell had 24 previous convictions for 34 offences including burglary and the theft of a cashpoint machine for which he was currently serving a 32-month jail sentence.

Nigel Fryer, representing David Owen, said: “The defendant is a hard-working individual who is supported by a number of people in court today.

“He has made some foolish decisions which he has to pay for.”

Rhodri Chudleigh, for Kelly Owen, said: “She has lost her reputation and her clean character.

"She has also lost her job which she held for a considerable period of time.”

The court was told the couple have a young daughter together.

Susan Ferrier, mitigating, for Powell, said: “The defendant describes himself as historically a menace.”

His barrister said the father-of-four had pleaded guilty and was looking to rid himself of the drug problems which had blighted him.

She told the court: “His life is passing him by. He wants to be of some use.”

Judge Williams also ordered Kelly Owen to observe a three-month electronically-monitored curfew between the hours of 8pm and 6am.

All three defendants must pay a victim surcharge.