A CAR thief has been jailed for two years following a high-speed police chase through south Essex.

Ryan Layzell, 22, of Bellmaine Avenue, Corringham, had borrowed the Renault Clio from a friend but, instead of returning it to her, took the keys and went on a joyride with another pal.

Basildon Crown Court heard the pair got in the car on September 26 last year after taking the keys as the girl slept.

Layzell, who was the passenger in the car, and his friend began speeding in the car along the A127 in Basildon but they were spotted by police on a routine patrol.

Officers signalled to them to pull over, but the pair ignored them and continued their joyride.

Police began pursuing the stolen car and during the chase, the duo reached speeds of up to 90mph, drove the car on the wrong side of the road, zigzagged and swerved across roundabouts and through residential roads.

They eventually dumped the car in an industrial estate in Corringham where they ran off.

At the time of that incident, Layzell was already wanted by police in connection with the theft of £800 worth of jewellery from a shop in St John’s Way, Corringham in August 2012.

Despite knowing the shop’s owner, the court heard he helped himself to the expensive gems.

Mitigating Yvette Kresner told the court: “There were two CCTV cameras covering the whole shop so when he goes in and takes the jewellery, it was far from sophisticated. Being that the owners knew him it was opportunist and foolish.”

Layzell - who previously served 12-months in a young offenders institute in 2010 - pleaded guilty to numerous offences including criminal damage, taking a vehicle without consent, theft and failing to surrender to custody.

Sentencing him Judge David Owen Jones said: “You get full credit for your earlier plea of guilty. But bearing in mind you are 22 you have an appalling record.

“The vehicle was hired by a friend of yours and she tried to text you to return it.

“ It was not returned but was instead driven by another friend of yours in which it was speeding, zigzagging, swerving across the carriageway, nearly crashing and being driven on the wrong side of the road.

“I accept that you were not the driver but were in the vehicle at the time. It was fortunate there wasn’t an accident.

“The jewellery store is an example of a snatch and grab and is exactly the same kind as an earlier occasion.

“Stores are entitled to sell their goods by showing items to their customers. Snatching this tray of jewellery that has not been recovered is in my judgement a serious offence.”

Police had issued Layzell’s photograph while he was wanted as part of Operation Nemesis – a countywide crackdown to arrest those wanted in connection with theft and burglary offences.