A 16-YEAR-OLD caught driving a van in Great Sankey said he took to the wheel because he was the better driver of his friends.

The teenager from Widnes, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was detained for four months after admitting taking the van, driving without a licence and insurance along with failing to comply with a rehabilitation order.

Halton Magistrates Court heard on Thursday how the victim, Christopher McCormack, noticed the van had been taken from outside his Liverpool Road home on January 24.

Richard Sealy, prosecuting, said: “At 8am he noticed the van had been taken and wondered if he had left the keys in the front door.

“He had seen two males near the vehicle between 11.30pm and 12.30am.

“The defendant said he found the keys in the van and decided to drive him and his friends around in it.”

The youngster had previous convictions including actual bodily harm and criminal damage and a list of non-compliance with court orders.

Magistrates heard how youth offending teams had at times struggled to work with the teenager, who on previous occasions had refused to come downstairs from his bedroom when being fitted with a tag and failing to attend appointments.

But since his plea for the latest offence he turned up to three out of four sessions with the youth offending team.

Peter Green, defending, said: “It’s a sad and difficult case. He’s a young man who has had plenty of difficulties in his life.

“He was taken into care when he was four and has had more than 50 care placements since then.

“It’s probably little wonder he’s managed to get himself into trouble. He is a vulnerable young man who is affected by his peers.

“At 16 he is very much at a crossroads and a last chance because if you can get youths like him to comply now you will probably change them forever.

“We see some youngsters graduate from youth to adult court and they spent their entire lives in trouble.

“If you get him to stop offending now he would probably be offence free for the rest of his life.

“I asked him if he wanted to go to custody and he said no.”

But magistrates ordered he spend four-months in detention and training for persistent breaches and ordered six points go on to his licence when eligible for one.