A thief’s drug-addled prank backfired after he was hauled into prison for taking his neighbour’s car.
Russell Gray’s drove the keyless Ford Mondeo for a mile, before abandoning it outside a restaurant in St Andrews when the engine cut out.
The bizarre incident unfolded on October 26, the same day Gray was released from custody at Dundee Sheriff Court.
After pleading guilty to theft, reports were ordered to assess the 60-year-old’s suitability for a drug treatment order.
Owner watched as thief took car
The owner of the car, which was parked with its engine running, returned home from shopping with his granddaughter just after 6pm.
He then watched from his home as Gray got into the driver’s seat.
Prosecutor Duncan Mackenzie said: “The witness came out, went to the drivers’ door and shouted ‘get out my car’.
“The accused drove off with the drivers’ door open.
“Due to the speed, the door swung shut as he was moving off.
“Police were immediately contacted.”
Officers later traced the car outside Zizzi on South Street, St Andrews.
Gray, of the Fife town’s Roundhill Road, was arrested at his home address and when asked why he stole the vehicle, he replied: “Because it was open,” before starting to laugh.
Gray had been released on bail from Dundee Sheriff Court on the same day in connection with a separate allegation.
At an earlier hearing, Gray’s solicitor Lee Qumsieh said: “It’s a very bizarre offence.
“I think he knows this man and he tells me he had done it for a laugh.
“He was planning to return the vehicle – that clearly did not happen.
“The car cut out because the key was a certain distance away.”
‘Summary justice’ administered
Gray previously appeared in the dock sporting an injury to his face and blood on his clothing.
Mr Qumsieh claimed his client had been the victim of “summary justice” as a result of his actions.
The sheriff deferred sentence for a drug treatment testing order assessment to be carried out and released him on bail.
“It’s the kind of behaviour that appears to be totally out of control,” he said.
“It must have been very distressing and upsetting for the person concerned.
“I am prepared to let you undergo the drug treatment testing order.
“It is your one and only chance of avoiding custody as far as I am concerned.”
Gray will return to court in January.