A BURGLAR high on drink and drugs stole the keys to a £14,000 taxi parked outside the driver's house because he could not be bothered to walk home, a court heard.

Dean Knight was out with his girlfriend looking for a car to take when he saw the Fiat Diablo on the drive of a property in Middlesbrough, in the early hours of March 2.

Knight broke into the house while the owner, his wife and three children slept, took a lap-top computer and a handbag containing a £1,000 ring, and the keys to the taxi.

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Teesside Crown Court was told how he raced through the streets before losing control in Flatts Lane, hitting a lamppost and overturning the vehicle.

The 25-year-old and his partner - who got in after he stole it - escaped unhurt from the wreckage, but Knight left his tobacco tin inside and was quickly traced by police.

Some of the property stolen during the raid on the house in Buckingham Drive, Normanby, was also recovered from Knight, Beverley Dawes, prosecuting, told the court.

Knight, of Midville Walk, Middlesbrough, admitted burglary, aggravated vehicle taking, driving without insurance and without a licence and was jailed for three-and-ahalf years.

His lawyer, Rachel Dyson, told Judge Peter Bowers Knight was "deeply ashamed" after hearing how the raid had affected taxi driver Mark Morton and his family.

The court heard how the vehicle was written offin the 2.15am crash, Mr Morton lost income because he could not work and the family were left anxious about the burglary.

Judge Bowers told him: "On any view, this was extremely serious. It was totally selfish.

You wanted a car to get home.

It has had a profound affect upon your victim and his family."

Miss Dyson said: "He has had the opportunity this morning of hearing the victim impact statement provided by Mr Morton and having heard that, he is deeply sorry for what he has done.

"It is unfortunate that he could give no real reason as to why this particular offence has been committed, but he does feel deeply ashamed."

Knight, who has 98 offences on his record and previous convictions for burglary, vehicle taking and driving matters. had taken heroin and drank vodka before the raid.