A DRUNKEN teenager who stole and crashed a £100,000 ambulance, writing it off, placed an enormous strain on the emergency service, a court heard yesterday.

Steven McGladdery, 19, wandered into a house where the crew were treating a casualty and stole the keys from a paramedic's pocket.

He then led police on a 60mph pursuit through a Middlesbrough housing estate before he crashed the Mercedes Benz ambulance into a wall and a car.

McGladdery, who was on his third anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) for stealing a car and ramming a police car, was found by a police dog hiding.

He was sentenced to 18 months in custody in December 2005 for aggravated vehicle-taking and driving with excess alcohol when he rammed a stolen Ford Orion into a police car and a house in Redcar, east Cleveland.

Harry Hadfield, prosecuting, said his actions, on February 8, this year, placed an enormous strain on the ambulance service.

The service's operations manager told Teesside Crown Court it was impossible to replace the ambulance and that the service was still a vehicle short six months later,

The crew were in a house in Allendale Road, Ormesby, Middlesbrough, at 9.50pm when Mc- Gladdery entered, apparently drunk.

Mr Hadfield said: "He started to query the treatment they were giving to the victim, was swearing and pushing them.

"The woman resident told him to leave and he did. When they went outside, they noticed that the ambulance had been stolen."

Jo Kidd, in mitigation, said McGladdery had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) aged seven, and that he had a drug and drink problem.

She said: "He achieved notoriety over this incident, but his reaction is that he feels low and depressed about it."

A police video of the chase was shown in court, and the judge, Recorder Martin Bethel, told McGladdery: "Your behaviour was quite abominable.

"I do not know whether you were proud when you were watching that film, but you took an ambulance which was answering a call, you drove it in an extraordinarily dangerous way, you wrote it off at a cost of £100,000 and you left that area with a lack of ambulance cover."

McGladdery, of Moorbeck Way, Ormesby, was sentenced to three years in a young offenders' institution, disqualified from driving for four years and was given a three-year Asbo, to start on his release.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle-taking, driving while disqualified, driving with no insurance and breach of an Asbo.