A 30-year-old Colchester man who crashed his work van and then lied to police about it being stolen has been given a community order.

Thomas Ross, who worked for a company which serviced hot tubs, should have asked his employer if he wanted to use the Citroen van outside working hours but failed to do so when he drove it one evening in June last year, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Charles Judge, prosecuting, said Ross had been driving along Head Lane in Great Cornard, near Sudbury, in the early hours of June 4 when the van collided with a parked tipper truck worth £4,750

Because of the damage to the tipper truck it had to be replaced by its owner, who had to pay an extra £11,000 for it to be converted for use in his business.

The Citroen van driven by Ross, which had been bought for £2,500 several weeks earlier, had to be written off because of the damage to it and replaced.

Following the crash, Ross told his employer that the van had been stolen and he later repeated the lie to police, said Mr Judge,

Ross, of Morley’s Road, Colchester, admitted attempting to pervert the course of justice and aggravated vehicle taking.

He was given a 12-month community order and ordered to do 160 hours' unpaid work.

He was also given a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement and banned from driving for 12 months.

Sentencing him, Recorder Gabrielle Posner said: “This case is about a situation spiralling out of control. It must have felt like a sick scene from a television programme.”

She said Ross was normally a hard-working, decent person who was rated highly by people who knew him.

“The sad aspect of this case is that you have got to 30 and were a man of good character before these offences.

“I think your thought processes might have been affected by your mother’s illness and sad death,” added the judge.

She said that usually someone who tried to pervert the course of justice would get a custodial sentence but in his case, she felt she should give him a chance.

Simon Gladwell, for Ross, said his client had lost his job as a result of what he did but he had since found new employment.