A man has pleaded guilty to stealing a 4X4 and trailer loaded with power tools and chainsaws from an Inverness community gardening group.
Alexander Mulroy, 31, who lost an arm in a car accident, broke through two locked gates to access the Hawthorn Project on July 15 this year.
He was later arrested by police after running the stolen pick-up truck off the A862 road between Inverness and Beauly.
Mulroy, described as a prisoner at Inverness, admitted stealing the vehicle and trailer at Inverness Sheriff Court yesterday.
He also pleaded guilty to driving without insurance and with an expired provisional driving licence.
The Hawthorn Project is a community allotment project based in the Dalneigh area of Inverness.
The pick-up is used for maintenance jobs around Inverness and had been secured by its regular driver earlier in the evening.
Fiscal depute Roderick Urquhart told the court that the development is surrounded by a high security fence with two locked gates.
A car jack had been used to lift the outer gate off its hinges, while a metal chain had been cut to force access through the inner gate.
A local resident reported hearing a loud bang at around 12.30am, before seeing the pick-up truck driving away.
About 30 minutes later an off-duty British Transport Police officer discovered the vehicle off the road on the A862 close to Lentran.
Mr Urquhart said: “Initially the accused told officers that he had been a passenger in the vehicle but a police dog handler was brought in and found that nobody else had been there.”
He told police: “I owed people money. My family was in danger if I didn’t do it.”
Mulroy’s defence agent Marc Dickson asked for sentence to be deferred for a background report. Mulroy will reappear in court on October 23.