A man who stole a car before crashing it into a ditch was caught after his DNA was found on the driver’s airbag, a court heard.

Thomas Safford, of Main Road, in Little Gransden, Sandy, was seen loitering in back gardens in Cambourne in the early hours of April 23 last year.

The 20-year-old was seen by one family at 2am, who questioned why he was there after seeing a torch flash in their bedroom window and hearing their back door handle turning.

Safford was spotted by the family going into the next garden, and told them he was drunk and had 'lost his football'.

Later on that morning, various residents on the street in Cambourne noticed their back gates were open, Cambridge Crown Court heard.

One family living in Brockholt Road, Caxton, also noticed their car – a red Ford Focus – and a motorbike had been stolen from their driveway.

Their back door had been forced open and keys to both vehicles taken. At 5.33am a member of the public reported a car in a ditch in Ermine Street, Caxton.

Police arrived to find the car was the stolen Ford Focus and was upside down, partially submerged in water by the roadside. The car had spun round so the front was facing the road.

A man approached officers at the scene and told them he had been woken up at 3am that morning by a car horn sounding continuously.

Safford was arrested by police a month later after he was identified by a witness in Cambourne. His DNA was loaded onto the national database and he was linked to the stolen car through the driver's airbag.

Safford pleaded guilty to burglary and aggravated vehicle taking and was sentenced at the crown court on January 31, where he was jailed for 18 months. He was also disqualified from driving for 21 months.

DC Cheryl Harris said: “Safford's behaviour was completely reckless. It is extremely lucky there was no one in the area at the time, otherwise the outcome could have been a lot worse.

“Safford was also fortunate to walk away without serious injuries.”