A CROOK at the heart of a Midlands "car ringing" gang has had more than a quarter slashed off his jail term by top judges.

Rickie Andrew McCullough, 31, was arrested driving a £10,000 stolen Renault Megane with false number plates in November last year.

He was later linked by police to three other vehicles stolen in burglaries in Droitwich and Worcester.

McCullough, of Trinity Close, Evesham, was jailed for three years three months at Worcester Crown Court in April.

He pleaded guilty to fraud and four counts of handling stolen goods.

Today at London's Appeal Court, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones cut McCullough's sentence to two years three months.

The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Green and Mr Justice William Davis, said McCullough was a member of a "car ringing operation".

He had been linked to stolen vehicles worth a total of £50,000.

"He was in possession of vehicles which had been stolen very recently in domestic burglaries," the judge added.

Other cars involved were a VW Golf, a Mercedes Vito and an Audi A3.

Cutting McCullough's sentence, however, the judge said he should not have been given extra jail time for the fraud, which related to the false number plates.

That crime was "part and parcel of the car ringing operation" and ought to have been met with a concurrent sentence.

Slicing 12 months of McCullough's jail term, the judge concluded: "To that extent this appeal is allowed."