A MAN stole a woman's car keys only a couple of days after he befriended her online – but a count against him raping her was dropped.

The woman received a Snapchat friend request from Lee Dove on Christmas Day 2018 and the pair started chatting the next day.

At Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, Nicola Gatto, prosecuting, said Dove asked a lot of questions about the car she drove and her family she lived with.

Ms Gatto said: “During the chat the defendant was persistent in asking to come round to her home and he said he would bring drink.

“Photographs were exchanged between the two of them.”

Dove told the woman his name was Lee Anthony and lived in Newton Heath with his mum after splitting from his girlfriend, with whom he lived with in Radcliffe.

At around 6.40pm on December 27, 2018, Dove arrived at the woman’s house in Radcliffe after being given a lift by his cousin.

Dove and the woman had some drink and spent the evening together.

Later on, he used the woman’s phone, with her permission, to call his cousin’s girlfriend to pick him up.

He left the house just after 10.20pm.

Ms Gatto said it is the prosecution’s case that when Dove left the home he took the keys to the woman’s BMW.

CCTV footage shows someone getting into the car but it is not clear who the person is.

The next morning the woman phoned police to report her car had been stolen.

And she then said “something more serious had happened”, Ms Gatto said.

In a statement to police on January 2, 2019, Dove said there was “consensual sexual activity” with the woman and knew nothing about the theft of the BMW.

The car was recovered on January 12, 2019 on false plates and had “apparently been used during the course of an armed robbery”.

But there is no suggestion Dove was involved in the incident, Ms Gatto added.

Counts of rape and sexual assault have since been dropped but Dove was sentenced for theft after he later pleaded guilty to that charge.

The court heard Dove, 34, of Stoneyvale Court, Rochdale, has convictions from 2003 to 2019, including a number of dishonesty cases.

Neil Usher, defending, said “enormous distress” has been caused over the rape allegation with accusations on social media.

Judge John Edwards sentenced Dove to a 12-month community service and told him to do a 25-day rehabilitation activity requirement order.

He was also banned from driving for 12 months.