Security guard's Ferrari joyride

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The Independent Online
ONE CAN only imagine how many times Gareth Hemmings had gazed almost lustfully at the sleek, sporty lines of the Ferrari he was supposed to be watching over in his job as a showroom security guard.

But after all those nights locked away with the red sports car, the temptation became too much. One Friday evening in March 1998, the young man turned off the security cameras and collected the keys for the 355 Berlinetta, which can travel from 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds.

Ignoring the fact that he had never in his life taken a driving lesson, he settled himself into the driver's seat of the pounds 90,000 car and took a carefree spin around the streets of Birmingham. He even stopped on the way to pick up a friend.

And there might the adventure have ended with no one the wiser, apart from the matter of a little prang he incurred, when the vehicle had spun and rammed into a kerb, before he returned the vehicle to the Evans Halshaw showroom in the city centre.

The following Monday, a mechanic pointed out to the sales manager that an off-side wheel of the car had been severely damaged. The odometer also showed 20 miles that could not be accounted for.

Hemmings, 20, this week admitted a charge of aggravated vehicle taking when he appeared before Birmingham Crown Court. He was sentenced to nine months in a Young Offender Institution.

Neal Williams, for the prosecution, told the court: "Not surprisingly, bearing in mind he did not possess a driving licence, Hemmings' control of the car was less than ideal."

Judge Alistair McCreath told Hemmings he had breached his employer's trust, and added: "You were incapable of driving any car, never mind a Ferrari."