Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 13:43 UK

Teen learner wrote off dad's BMW

Alex Brooks
Alex Brooks had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing in Llanelli

A teenager who wrote off his father's 19,000 BMW convertible after taking it without permission has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Alex Brooks' family were on holiday in Spain when he crashed down an embankment after hitting a roundabout in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.

The 19-year-old learner driver admitted four charges before local magistrates.

His family pleaded to keep him out of jail and the bench said they would give him a chance to put his life in order.

The court heard that at 00.30 GMT on 8 January, police found the abandoned BMW 325 convertible at the bottom of an embankment, just off Berwick roundabout on the A484 in Llanelli.

Following inquiries, they established that the owner was Brooks' father and went to their address.

Brooks admitted to police he had taken the car without permission and while "travelling at speed" hit the roundabout, was unable to brake and went down the embankment.

Alex Brooks and his father leave court
Alex accepts his father's quite understandable anger
Stephen Lloyd, defending

Prosecuting Sian Vaughan said Brooks was already the subject of a curfew order, having breached a previous suspended sentence for another matter.

He had admitted aggravated vehicle taking, driving otherwise in accordance with a licence, using a vehicle without insurance and failing to stop after an accident.

In mitigation, Stephen Lloyd said: "The loser in this case, Alex Brooks' father, is sitting in the back of this court. Alex accepts his father's quite understandable anger.

"The view of his father is that he does not wish his son to go to prison in this case."

The court heard that Brooks had to pay his father 500 towards the cost of the damage from his bank account.

Mr Lloyd said that Brooks' family had made considerable efforts to improve his behaviour.

"The problem is when he goes out with his mates, and drinks too much, often difficulties and stupid behaviour take place."

Mr Lloyd said since the crash, Brooks had held down a job and would often work up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.

BMW 325 convertible  (library)
A BMW like the one which Brooks crashed

"They feel immediate custody would put him back with the people they are trying to keep him from."

Sentencing Brooks, the chairman of the bench Arwel Davies, told Brooks he was "very, very close to going to prison".

He said if it was not for the fact that his father and family had been so supportive, he would have been immediately jailed.

"We, the bench, are putting our heads on the block for you today.

"Take this as a chance to put your life in order."

As well as a four month sentence, suspended for 18 months, Brooks will be electronically tagged and will serve an 8pm-6am curfew for three months.

He must also carry out 40 hours unpaid work and pay 75 costs.

It emerged that insurance paid out 15,000 of the 19,000 value of the car.

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