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Opportunist car thief caged for 16 months

PUBLISHED: 15:49 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 16:10 25 August 2010

A JOYRIDER caught at the wheel of a stolen Mercedes has been jailed for 16 months.

A JOYRIDER caught at the wheel of a stolen Mercedes has been jailed for 16 months.

Michael Tanner, 21, of Greenvale Road, Eltham was banned from driving and on licence for aggravated vehicle theft when he was captured on the M25 in Surrey.

Just hours earlier the £8,500 car was taken from a driveway in Lewisham after the keys were swiped from the hallway of the house.

Tanner, who admitted handling stolen goods, claimed he chanced upon the car with the keys in the ignition outside the property in Balder Rise, and drove it round the M25 to Leatherhead.

He has a string of convictions for dishonesty, including burglary, and he had recently been released from jail for aggravated vehicle taking, when he received a driving ban.

The court was told last Wednesday that he worked as a carpenter for Greenwich council but a spokesman for the borough told the Times there was no record of him ever being employed by them.

Tanner refused to answer police questions following his arrest and distanced himself from the burglary.

Judge Michael Carroll quipped: "So the burglar took the trouble of retrieving the keys from the stairwell of the property, placing the keys in the car, and just left it there?

"I see, just so I get the story straight."

Passing sentence, he added: "You have pleaded guilty to four offences, including handling this motorcar.

"Whilst disqualified from driving, you drove it some distance from where you found it to where you were arrested by Surrey police officers.

"Nothing other than a custodial sentence can be justified in your case."

Tanner admitted driving without insurance, handling stolen goods, for which he received 12 months in jail, driving whilst disqualified which earned him three months, and failing to appear before magistrates for an earlier hearing for which he received a further month, all to run concurrently.

He was banned from driving again for 18 months.

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