A-23-YEAR-OLD Stroud man who pleaded guilty to writing off a black Ford Focus after taking it without permission from its disabled owner will be sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court later this month.

George King, of Hilltop Close, Stroud, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking and causing vehicle damage of £5,000 or more, driving without insurance and driving without a licence last month.

On Wednesday, February 5, at Cheltenham Magistrates Court he also admitted an additional charge of failing to comply with the direction of a PC after ignoring an instruction to leave Stroud town centre on December 28, 2013.

The bench fined King £180 for disregarding the dispersal order but declined to sentence him for stealing the disabled man’s car, insisting the offence was too serious to be dealt with at magistrates’ court.

He will now be sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court on Wednesday, February 26.

Heidi Price, prosecuting, told magistrates that King took the car after the victim, who suffers from Parkinson’s, had given him the keys on the understanding that he would use them to let his dog out of the Ford Focus and take it for a walk.

However, once King got hold of the keys on August 25 he decided to take the car on a joyride through Gloucester, she said.

The court heard that police initially started following the vehicle because its lights were out and they thought the driver was drunk.

When they began to pursue King, he sped off and later crashed the car into a white Mercedes taxi and a blue Jaguar, Ms Price said.

After police apprehended the unemployed King and asked him during interview why he had failed to surrender, he said ‘I was stupid, I just panicked’, she added.

Ms Price called for King to be sentenced at crown court because there were ‘several aggravating factors’, such as the fact that the vehicle belonged to a disabled man and was driven dangerously in the presence of a large number of pedestrians.

However, King’s solicitor Kirsty Gordon-Cleaver, asked for the magistrates to sentence King, saying he was ‘sincerely remorseful for his actions’ and deserved credit for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity.

But magistrates said they believed there were ‘several significant aggravating factors’ which made the offence so serious it passed the custody threshold and therefore had to be considered by a crown court judge for sentencing.