'Daft mistake' as South Shields driver steals friends car, crashes it, then flees the scene

A man pinched his pal’s car and crashed it around a mile away – then drove off after being chased by the occupants of the other vehicle.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 4:55 am

Lewis Bell, 20, took the keys to the Vauxhall Corsa after his friend parked it for the night to attend a house party in Chichester Road, South Shields.

Bell, of Ravensworth Terrace, West Park, South Shields, lost control in nearby Harton Lane as he drove to his mum’s house.

He crashed into a parked Nissan Micra but drove off after men inside jumped out and set off in pursuit on foot, magistrates in South Tyneside heard.

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The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

In court, Bell admitted he had made a “daft mistake” and insisted he was trying to turn his life around.

Prosecutor Leanne Duffy said: “The car’s owner had driven to a house party and left his car parked up. He had the keys.

“The next morning, he contacted the police to say his car wasn’t there, it was missing.

“The Micra was outside an address when the Corsa crashed into it and drove away.

“There was damage to a door, the bonnet and a wheel.”

The court heard Bell and the Corsa’s owner remained friends, but the man was a new driver and feared his insurance premiums would rocket.

In a statement read to magistrates, the second victim said the incident had left him stressed and feeling anxious.

Bell pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, failing to stop after a road accident, driving without insurance and driving without a licence

Ms Duffy said Bell’s crimes made a 12-week prison term a possibility.

Kevin Smallcombe, defending Bell, who has no previous convictions, said: “His good friend remains his friend despite what has happened.

“The car owner had been spoken to by the police about concerns that he had had about his car being driven.

“It became apparent that someone must have taken the car.

“Mr Bell had driven the car a short distance to take it to his mother’s to get some food.

“He had become distracted and hit the Micra. Several persons exited that car and chased him, so he made off.”

Magistrates adjourned the case for reports and Bell will be sentenced at the same court on Tuesday, June 22.

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