Jailed car thief waited for police after discovering tot

A THIEF who dumped a stolen car when he discovered a three-year-old on the back seat waited for police to arrive to make sure the child was safe.

A court heard how James Docherty, 25, was "horrified" when he realised there was a child in the BMW X5 he had stolen from outside the Limelite pub at Jock's Lodge last Wednesday afternoon.

The father-of-one abandoned the car half a mile away and hid until police arrived to rescue the child, who was found safe and well in Northfield 15 minutes later.

He later told police he had "panicked".

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He said: "I have got a kid myself and it was just a disaster all round. I'm extremely sorry for my actions, I'm just glad it turned out okay."

Docherty, of Ferniehill Road, pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to stealing the car, driving while disqualified and without insurance and was jailed for 140 days.

Andrew Currie, 40, left the child in his grey BMW X5 while he stopped at the bar, which he owns. The court heard yesterday how Mr Currie had left the car with the keys in the ignition for up to 40 minutes, but had been checking on his son at "regular intervals". A two-year-old child had also been in the car but was taken out, leaving the boy alone to listen to the radio.

Defence solicitor Fiona Cooper said Docherty, of Ferniehill Road, had been walking along the road when he spotted the keys in the ignition of the grey 4x4.

"Basically the temptation was too much for him," said Ms Cooper. "He had only driven a very short distance when he heard the noise of the child in the back. He was absolutely horrified. He stopped the car very quickly thereafter on a main road close to where the car had been taken from."

She said Docherty had hidden himself nearby and watched the car until police arrived.

"He wasn't prepared to leave the child unattended and wanted to make sure he was recovered safely by police," Ms Cooper added.

Docherty, who was captured on CCTV stealing the car, was later arrested.

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Ms Cooper said Docherty, who was convicted last year of culpable and reckless driving, had been "appalled" at reports he had abducted the child.

"He had absolutely no idea there was a child in the car otherwise he wouldn't have touched it," she added.

Docherty suffers from neurological disorder Huntington's chorea and is due to see a psychiatrist in relation to his mental state, the solicitor added.

Sheriff Kenneth Hogg said almost five months in custody was the only option for the serial offender.

"It's fairly clear, looking at your record, that a prison sentence is a necessary result," said the sheriff.

"I'm not sentencing you for an abduction. I fully accept that you must have got a considerable fright when you saw this child in the back of the car," he added.