Drunk man stole takeaway driver's car after spotting keys in ignition

The Clocktower in Newmarket High Street.

Herman Crouch was spotted by police near the Clock Tower roundabout - Credit: Archant

A drunk man who stole a food takeaway driver's car while the keys were in the ignition has been fined and banned from the road for three years. 

Magistrates heard how the delivery driver from Calzone House in Newmarket's High Street had parked his car in Kingston Passage on August 20 this year while waiting to pick up another order. 

The driver left the keys in the ignition of the Toyota Yaris as he went to collect the order but when he came back out of the restaurant, the car had gone, Wayne Ablett, prosecuting, told Suffolk Magistrates' Court. 

He initially thought someone from the restaurant was playing a joke on him but when he realised they were not, he phoned the police, Mr Ablett said. 

Police received a report on the car and an officer saw it near the Clock Tower roundabout. 

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The car was stopped on Willie Snaith Road and the driver, Herman Crouch, 58, was arrested initially for theft. 

He then failed to provide a roadside breath sample but in custody, Crouch blew 84 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg in 100ml of breath.

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When the delivery driver came back to the car, he found a leather pouch, containing £17 in loose change and £5 notes, was missing.

Crouch was also found to only hold a provisional driving licence.  

The court heard that Crouch, of no fixed address in Bury St Edmunds, told police: "All I did was see the keys in the car.

"The geezer left the door open and the keys in with the engine running for over half an hour so I decided to take it. What does he expect?" 

Crouch has 33 previous convictions for 70 offences, including one for drink driving in 2015. 

Appearing at Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Monday, Crouch pleaded guilty to taking a motor vehicle without the owner's consent, theft by finding, drink driving, no insurance, and driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence. 

Magistrates banned Crouch from driving for three years, and fined him a total of £500. 

He was also ordered to pay compensation of £17 to the victim for his loss. 

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