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Birmingham man jailed for stealing car with toddler inside


A Birmingham man has been jailed for more than seven years after car-jacking an Audi with a toddler inside − and then dropping the boy through a window on realising he was still strapped in his child seat.

Lee Southall (pictured), of no fixed address, stole the car in Francis Road, Stechford, last September having flagged it down on the pretence of asking for directions.

As the obliging driver opened his window Southall punched him in the face and sprayed him with an unknown substance before grabbing the keys. The 39-year-old jumped in the car and sped off − leaving the driver and his partner at the roadside − but stopped a short distance down the road to lower the toddler out of a window.

Southall got away with the car - which was never recovered - but just days after the attack the boy's mother spotted him in a photo posted on a friend's Facebook page and contacted West Midlands Police.

He went on the run for several weeks but was tracked down by detectives and, having initially denied the offence, later changed his plea to guilty.

And at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (22 August) he was jailed for seven-and-a-half years with an extended licence period of four years.

DC Damian Forrest, from the force’s Criminal Investigation Department, said: "This young couple only stopped their car to offer help and found themselves by the side of the road watching their son being driven away at considerable speed.

"Thankfully the two-year-old boy's ordeal lasted only a few seconds and he was swiftly reunited, unhurt, with his parents...but his father suffered a cut lip and other facial injuries.

"By chance the child’s mother spotted Southall whilst browsing a friend’s Facebook page a few days later. Southall became aware he’d been identified and went on the run…but we found him a month later."

Southall was charged and remanded for trial at Birmingham Crown Court on 3 April but changed his plea to guilty as the trial began.

DC Forrest added: "At the time of his arrest Southall was still on licence for his role in an armed robbery in Burntwood in March 2009. The judge recognised that Southall is a dangerous offender and I am pleased that he will be removed from the streets for some considerable time."