A RECKLESS joyrider who crashed his girlfriend’s car following a high-speed police chase through Largs 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 took his partner’s Vauxhall Corsa from her home in the town on June 24 without her consent while she holidayed in Greece.

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 high-speed pursuit ensued, with Heath making his way into Largs and reaching speeds in excess of 70mph in a 30mph zone.

The previous hearing was told by prosecutors: “The accysed approached a crossroads and failed to give way, colliding with a parked vehicle.

“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 before the car rolled away.

The fiscal depute added: “The accused left the vehicle but failed to properly engage the handbrake and the car continued without anyone in it. It entered a driveway and hit a small wall within a 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 he handed himself into Govan police office after officers were unable to locate him at his home in Beith.

Sheriff Colin Bissett 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, Heath was given 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 was fined a total of £1,675.