A RECKLESS joyrider who crashed his girlfriend's car following a high-speed police chase has been spared a prison sentence.

Jonathan Heath pleaded guilty to four charges earlier this year and returned to Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last week to learn his fate.

The 25-year-old, from Beith, took his partner's Vauxhall Corsa from her home in the town on June 24 without her consent - as she was on holiday in Greece at the time.

Heath dangerously overtook a bus as it approached a pedestrian crossing, forcing oncoming traffic to stop, and then made off from police who were on patrol on the A78.

A police pursuit then followed, with Heath making his way into Largs and reaching speeds in excess of 70mph in a 30mph zone.

The procurator fiscal depute told the previous hearing: "He approached a crossroads and failed to give way, colliding with a parked vehicle.

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"As he came down the road onto a hill he began to turn left but lost control, mounting a footpath then travelling along it between a parked van and a garden wall."

Heath denied part of the original charge which stated he jumped out of a moving vehicle, claiming instead that he had put the handbrake on then jumped out and the car rolled away.

The fiscal depute added: "The accused left the vehicle but failed to properly engage the handbrake and the vehicle continued without anyone in it. It entered a driveway and hit a small wall within the garden."

Police officers checked the vehicle when it had stopped and found Heath's wallet inside.

The vehicle, which he did not have valid insurance cover to drive, was written off and Heath handed himself into Govan police office after officers were unable to locate him at his home.

Sheriff Colin Bissett previously warned Heath that if he "was to conduct a poll of people in Largs I imagine a majority of them would want me to send you to jail," to which Heath replied: "I imagine so."

When he returned to court on Wednesday, November 9, Heath was sentenced to a community payback order as a direct alternative to custody.

He must complete 120 hours of unpaid work in the community within 12 months and he was also fined a total of £1,675.