Burglar jailed after stealing £17,000 Mercedes and crashing it just two miles away
A burglar who stole the keys to a £17,000 Mercedes during a break-in and crashed it after two miles has been put behind bars.
Stephen Ambler broke into a house while the victims were in bed last July and used the stolen keys to drive off in the car, which he crashed into an embankment.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the house he targeted was on Lindsay Street in Hetton.
Just seven months earlier the 42-year-old serial offender caused £1,500 worth of damage when he broke into a hairdressers and stole brushes and dryers.
He has now been jailed for a total of five years.
Judge Christopher Prince said the car owner had been in bed when his home was targeted by Ambler.
The judge added: "He left the keys to his black Mercedes motor car vehicle valued at £17,000 on the window sill of the porch of his home.
"CCTV shows you coming along the street approaching the front door and then returning, before getting into his car and driving away in it.
"You drove away in the vehicle, you went about two miles before crashing it into an embankment."
The court heard seven months earlier Ambler, who had effectively been living homeless, was seen walking around carrying an axe before stopping outside the hairdressers raid and breaking in.
Judge Christopher Prince told him: "You have got an absolutely appalling record over a number of years for offences of burglary and offences relating to motor vehicles.
"In the early hours of the 21st of December, 2019, you broke into a hairdressing salon causing damages of £1500.
"The owner came back to the shop the following morning to find a number of items had been stolen including hair dryers and hair brushes.
"CCTV shows you and another man walking around carrying an axe. You were seen to stop outside the shop swinging the axe several times to smash the glass window before taking several items and leaving."
Ambler, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, driving whilst disqualified, without insurance and driving without a licence but was found guilty by a trial jury for domestic burglary which he had denied.
At trial he claimed he had not entered the property to steal the keys, but had instead found them outside the property.
Relating to the hairdressers break in, he admitted burglary and possession of a bladed article.
Jailing him for five years in total, the Judge told him it was a dangerous situation for a man of his record to be walking around carrying an axe in the early hours of the morning.
Mark Styles, mitigating, said Ambler was living under "sad circumstances at the the time" and added: "He was effectively living rough in a tent in the area. It may well be the defendant was under the influence of drink at the time.
"This man has a bad record I have to accept."
The court adjourned imposing a further term of disqualification from driving until next month.