A CAR thief with a drug addiction asked to be locked up yesterday to help him beat his habit - and the judge obliged.

Stewart Reith was jailed for 12months for stealing a Vauxhall Corsa VRM from a dealership in Hartlepool in June.

Reith posed as a member of staff in a high-visibility jacket and carried a clipboard as he searched the forecourt.

Closed circuit television cameras captured the figure getting into the £10,000 hatchback at Drive Vauxhall and driving away.

The car was found several days later in Eaglescliffe, near Stockton, with its wheels missing.

There was no forensic evidence to link homeless 38year-old Reith with the crime, but a month later he handed himself in and admitted the offence. He told officers he planned to sell the high-performance car to fund his habit, but struggled to find a buyer.

Paul Crocker, mitigating, told Teesside Crown Court: "He went to the police station because the drug dependency was having a catastrophic effect."

The court heard Reith was working as a pick-up driver for British Car Auctions and had the idea for the crime when he collected a vehicle.

Reith admitted theft and driving without insurance at an earlier hearing at Teesside Magistrates' Court.

As well as being jailed, his licence was endorsed with eight penalty points.

Reith had 31 previous offences on his record and was once jailed for nine years for robbery.