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Catalytic converter thief crushed to death by car

Police probe: The scene at Marshgate Industrial Estate PICTURES: SWNS

A WOULD-be thief was crushed to death when a car fell on him as he tried to steal its catalytic converter.

Gary Gray, 38, died after the jack holding up the Vauxhall Astra came loose — causing the full weight of the vehicle to slam down and suffocate him.

An inquest heard that he had been attempting to steal a part of the car’s exhaust after breaking in after hours, which could then be sold on for around £60.

A backpack containing a spanner and cooking oil and a lit torch were also next to the body, with a cutting tool still attached to the blue vehicle.

Death: A fire engine on scene at the car garage where Gary Gray died after being crushed by a car

A police investigation determined the incident was non-suspicious and a coroner concluded that the death was accidental.

The grisly discovery was made by an employee of JB Autos in Swindon, Wiltshire, as he opened up for work on November 15 last year.

Vilfredo Fernandes had also shut up the property the night before and told the inquest that it was empty then.

He said in a statement: ‘Prior to finishing, I locked up the compounds, making sure that there were no customers around.

‘The next day, I arrived around 8am and I could see a pair of legs on the floor sticking out from under a car which had a black car-jack near the front wheel.

‘I called my boss, told him what happened, and he told me to call an ambulance.’

Paramedics then arrived and pronounced Mr Gray dead at the scene.

James Brown, manager of JB Autos, suggested that this was not the first time someone had tried to sneak into the garage compound, located on an industrial estate.

He said in a statement: ‘Over the years I have had a number of thefts, so I keep the vehicles unlocked to stop people damaging them and smashing the windows before they realise there’s nothing valuable inside them.

‘The vehicles are left in gear with the handbrake off to stop the brakes seizing.’

It is believed that this caused the car to move while Mr Gray was fiddling with the Vauxhall’s underside with fatal consequences.