A north-east man told police he had only stolen a car from outside a shop because its owner had left the keys inside.
Mohammed Aslam stole the silver Mitsubishi Mirage from outside the Co-op in Turriff’s Balmellie Street on November 6 last year.
The driver had left the car insecure at about 7.30am to go into the shop allowing Aslam, 39, to jump in and flee.
Aslam, who was disqualified from driving at the time, then asked his friends to go for a ride – admitting to them he had stolen the vehicle.
At about 5.30pm on the same day, a neighbour spotted Aslam in the car which they recognised from social media posts appealing for information about its whereabouts, and reported him to the police.
And a day later, while he was driving around Newmachar, the car owner’s daughter confronted him after spotting him behind the wheel.
When police arrived to question him, he replied: “They left the keys in the car, what did you expect me to do?”
At Banff Sheriff Court yesterday, Aslam pleaded guilty to stealing the car and driving while disqualified.
He also admitted to resetting a driving licence and casino membership card, which were found in his home on November 7.
Defence agent Andrew Ormiston said the father-of-two was “very apologetic” for his behaviour.
“It is behaviour that is inexplicable,” he added.
“At the time of the commission of these offences, matters at home were not good. It was something that was preying on his mind.
“He recognises that he needs to be punished. He wants to now turn a corner in his life.”
Sheriff Philip Mann sentenced Aslam, of Main Street, Turriff, to 11 months in jail.
He said: “I’m not going to lecture you.
“You know what you’ve done and what you’ve pleaded guilty to is unacceptable.
“In my view there is no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence.”