A carjacker who outwitted police in two high-speed chases only to be found hiding in an airing cupboard has been jailed for 40 months.
Disqualified driver Joel Morgan had stolen a BMW advertised for sale on Facebook in May last year by posing as a prospective buyer.
The 29-year-old had asked to take it on a test drive with his pregnant girlfriend but drove away before the owner could also get in the car.
A court heard the owner desperately tried to stop Morgan’s getaway by twice pulling on the handbrake but was punched in the face.
The following day Morgan was spotted in the BMW on the M25 and reached speeds of 130mph as police pursued him.
But he escaped arrest by smashing through a coned off part of the motorway.
Joel Morgan was found hiding in an airing cupboard he has been banned from driving for 43 months.
Two hours later he was spotted on the A30 heading towards Salisbury and a second chase ensued.
Morgan again evaded attempts to stop him and the stolen vehicle was later found crashed and abandoned.
But a jury at Maidstone Crown Court, Kent, heard officers eventually found him curled up in the foetal position in the airing cupboard of a nearby property.
He had robbed Laurentiu Dragan of the BMW three series after it was advertised for sale for £500 on Facebook.
The carjacking was reported immediately and Morgan was apprehended within 36 hours.
Prosecutor Peter Forbes told the court Morgan maintained that the vehicle had been sold to him.
But Mr Forbes added: ‘Unfortunately for the defendant, a neighbour of Mr Dragan had seen the incident.
‘More unfortunately for him it was an off-duty police officer.’
He denied robbery and aggravated vehicle taking but was convicted on Thursday.
Joel Morgan was found by Kent police curled up in a foetal position in a nearby property, hoping to evade capture
As the cupboard is opened Morgan’s hand extends out to the officers, aware there’s no where left for him to run
He had admitted two charges of dangerous driving, two of driving while disqualified and one of driving without insurance ahead of his trial.
Judge David Griffith-Jones QC said custody was inevitable, and also imposed a driving ban for 43 months.
However, the court heard Morgan has never held a licence.
Morgan went to view the BMW in Maidstone, Kent following an exchange of messages with Mr Dragan.
He arrived in a VW Golf with his friends, including his pregnant partner, and there were discussions about a possible car swap, Mr Forbes told the court.
Morgan, also from Maidstone then asked for a test drive and got into the driver’s seat with his friends in the rear.
As Mr Dragan was getting in the front passenger seat Morgan began to drive away, causing him to grab the handbrake.
‘But the defendant took the handbrake off and reversed very fast. Mr Dragan reached again for the handbrake and was trying to get the car keys as he was punched in the face,’ said the prosecutor.
The police quickl;y pull Morgan out from his hiding place in the cupboard, grappling with teh carjacker
Morgan is quickly apprehended by police and escorted out of the building as fast as possible
‘Morgan then started to reach for something and Mr Dragan, fearing it might have been a weapon, allowed the car to drive around him.
‘He could hear a woman in the BMW shouting: ‘Joel, calm down, calm down’ and heard Morgan shout ‘You sold me the car’.’
The Golf was left at the scene but without any keys.
The BMW was spotted by police the following day on the M25. As they gave chase it reached speeds between 110mph and 130mph before smashing through traffic cones and escaping.
It was seen two hours later travelling on the A30, with a second chase resulting through a built-up area before the BMW was abandoned and Morgan eventually arrested.
Detective Constable Raj Dusanjh, of Kent Police said: ‘When Morgan realised the victim was unwilling to agree to a straight swap, he effectively abandoned his own car and then forcibly stole the victim’s BMW.
‘The victim was violently assaulted and then forced out of a moving vehicle, thankfully only suffering minor injuries.
‘Morgan was also driving whilst disqualified and the reckless speeds he reached to try and evade arrest provide further evidence of the contempt he has shown for the safety of other road users.’