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A 27-YEAR-OLD man repeatedly stole cars after arranging test drives with garages in Blackburn and Accrington.

Blackburn magistrates heard Michael John Jackson claimed he was under orders from a drug dealer who he owed money to.

And he said his reward was just £100 off his debt every time he stole a car.

Jackson, of Rhyddings Street, Accrington, pleaded guilty to stealing a BMW worth £10,895 from SL Motor Cars Ltd, an Audi A4 worth £6,500 from Chapel Car Sales and a Vauxhall Zafia worth £6,600 belonging to Kevin Hart Car Sales.

He asked for three similar offences to be taken into consideration and was sent on bail to Preston Crown Court to be sentenced.

Carl Gaffney, prosecuting, said taken in isolation the offences were unsophisticated but that changed when the offence was repeated time after time.

He said Jackson went into the garages under the auspices of taking a car for a test drive. Having got access to the keys he would then drive off without the salesman.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said he had foolishly run up a debt of £800 with an “unsavoury” character.

“He was then effectively put to work for this individual and if he refused he knew what would be coming,” said Mr Taylor.

“He would be at home with his family one night when someone would come through his front door and he would receive a beating. He was given a modus operandi and each time he was successful £100 was knocked off his debt."