A THIEF drove off in a car after taking its keys when he broke into another vehicle.

Ryan Bell did not get far, however, as he was recognised at the wheel of the Kia Picanto as he drove through Durham, drawing attention to himself due to the speeds he was reaching.

Durham Crown Court heard that a police officer on patrol knew Bell, due to his recent criminal history.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said: “The officer saw the car being driven at speed, so he stopped it and noticed Bell smelled of drink.

“Inquiries found that the car had only recently been stolen from outside its owner’s house in the Gilesgate area.

“The lady owner had left the keys in her partner’s car, which had been left insecure.

“Bell got into the partner’s car, from which he stole a satellite navigation system, sun glasses, a pair of walking boots, and the keys to the Kia.

“When he was interviewed, he claimed he bought the Kia for £2,500 from a garage in Spennymoor.”

Mr Dryden said the ten-month-old car was valued at £8,000.

Twenty-one-year-old Bell, of Bradford Crescent, Gilesgate, admitted two charges of theft, driving with excess alcohol, without insurance, and not in accordance with his licence, all of which took place on Tuesday July 22.

Tony Davis, mitigating, told the court Bell had, “a troubled upbringing”, but his criminal behaviour only developed in his late teens.

“The offending started in 2012, when he moved to Gilesgate, and met people of a criminal nature, who he allowed to influence him.

“He does have good qualifications from school, which mean his aim of getting his life back on track by going to university is realistic.

“Being on remand has been his first taste of custody, and it’s not something he has enjoyed.”

Judge Christopher Prince told Bell the background reports he had read reflected that he has, “the capability to impress.”

He said he would defer sentence by six months to see if Bell can go straight, adding: “So, not only must you stay out of trouble, but I want to see a stunningly good report about you in six months.

“If that happens, I will not send you to prison.

“You say you don’t like prison, well, it’s entirely up to whether you go back there or not.”

Bell was given an interim driving ban, the length of which will be determined when he returns to court for sentence on March 13.