A MAN has admitted a series of motoring offences after he stole a delivery van while looking for somewhere warm to stay.

Geoffrey Baker, 34, of Corporation Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to charges of taking a vehicle without owner’s consent, making off without payment from a petrol station and driving without a licence and driving without insurance at Darlington Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard that the van belonged to a small family business and on January 18 had been left unattended with the key in the ignition in West Auckland Road while the driver collected items for delivery.

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David Maddison, prosecuting, said the driver was returning to the van when he saw it being driven away.

Mr Maddison added: “An hour later the vehicle was driven into Morrison’s petrol station, was filled up with fuel and was driven away with no attempt made to pay. The next day police found the vehicle parked up with two people inside. One was the defendant who admitted the offences in police interview.”

Baker, who represented himself in court, told the magistrates that he had been left homeless following a row with his partner and took the van as a desperate act to escape temperatures of -5C.

He said: “I did it to survive. My fingers were blue and I had frostbite. I shouldn’t have done it, it was the wrong thing to do.”

Magistrates adjourned the hearing to allow probation officers to carry out a pre-sentence report.