A 21-year-old man was jailed on Wednesday after he admitted stealing two vehicles from Forth in August last year, triggering a massive police search involving a helicopter.
Aiden McFarlane, of no fixed abode, admitted stealing a Land Rover Discovery, later damaged in an accident, from Main Street, Forth, and then an Audi from Lea Rig. That was found with fire damage at Castlebank Park in Lanark.
McFarlane’s plea of not guilty was accepted to a charge of stealing a car from the adjoining St Patrick’s Road, a car found burned out at the top of the pathway down to the Clyde Valley.
A plea of not guilty was also accepted to a charge of obtaining a taxi from Lanark Road, Crossford, with no intention of paying the £25 fare at Heathfield Drive, Wishaw.
At Lanark Sheriff Court on Wednesday, depute fiscal Michael McIntosh said that the Land Rover had been left secured by the keeper, but people in the house had gone to bed without locking the front door.
On the morning of August 8, they realised the door was open, and the car keys and the vehicle had gone.
Shortly afterwards, police were called to attend a damaged vehicle in a field, and that proved to be the stolen Land Rover.
“Apparently he had been injured in an accident,” said Mr McIntosh. “There were large quantities of blood in the car. The blood was, in due course, linked to the accused.”
The second vehicle had also been secured, and that car’s owner had also gone to bed without locking the house door.
“He was awakened by the sound of tyres screeching out, about 5 or 6am, and the vehicle was missing,” said Mr McIntosh. “The owner of that car contacted the police.”
A short time later, members of the public involved in photography were in a layby near Harelaw when they saw and heard that stolen car being driven in an erratic manner, and they contacted the police.
Another member of the public was later asked for help because the car had broken down.
The authorities became involved, and blood spots were found at that car, an Audi 53.
Mr McIntosh said that after blood DNA analysis had been carried out, a warrant was granted, and the police caught up with the accused.
Both vehicles had been lost to their true owners, he said, adding that the damage to the Land Rover could be repaired, but the second vehicle was found showing signs of fire damage.
A solicitor for McFarlane said that he could offer no explanation for what he had done that night, but he offered an apology to the owners of both the vehicles.
McFarlane, who had been in custody since March 1, was “a young man with a significant record for his age”.
The solicitor had asked Sheriff D O’Carroll to defer sentence as McFarlane had been convicted at Hamilton Court by a jury of assault, and was due to be sentenced the following day, when reports would be available, but the sheriff jailed him immediately for 36 weeks.