A JUDGE urged two thieves to 'grow up' after they stole motorbikes and recklessly rode around roads and footpaths.

Dion Lewis, 19, and Keane Neal, 20, were sentenced at Oxford Crown Court yesterday for stealing two motorcycles from Whitelock Road in Abingdon.

They set out to steal the bikes on the night of March 29, the court heard, later abandoning a damaged Keeway model before taking a Honda for a high-speed spin.

Judge Peter Ross said: "The Honda was ridden in a highly dangerous chase lasting over an hour.

"Riding in that way represented a considerable risk to members of the public.

"Mercifully the roads were quiet, and the footpaths unoccupied.

"You couldn't have been confident that no pedestrians would be coming along the footpath, and you didn't care.

"Had there been a member of public walking along, and you struck them at the speed you were doing, you would each be looking at a sentence today of around eight to 10 years."

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He said they were 'both in it together' despite Lewis being found with the stolen vehicle.

Judge Ross told the pair: "You are both young and it's a tragedy to see the way the two of you are throwing your lives away.

"It's time you both grow up - if you want to choose to live a life that is lawless and uncaring about the consequences, one day those consequences will strike you both, in the form of an extremely long sentence.

"You have the opportunity to turn away from crime."

The judge said Lewis, of Landseer Walk in Abingdon, had a 'bad record' including vehicle-related offences and dishonesty offences.

He was sentenced to a total of 19 months in prison for two counts of aggravated vehicle taking and one count of going equipped for theft.

The judge told him: "The sentence is designed to punish you but not to crush out your hope for the future.

"I hope you come out [of prison] with qualifications."

Neal, of Grebe Close in Abingdon, told his defence barrister that he would prefer an immediate prison sentence rather than a suspended sentence, if the latter meant he would be made to meet court-imposed requirements.

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Judge Ross said this was a 'ridiculous' attitude, and told Neal: "It's an indication of your carelessness towards life that you were prepared to simply discard the possibility of rehabilitation and punishment within the community."

He instead handed down a sentence of 16 months, suspended for a period of two years, for two counts of aggravated vehicle taking.

Judge Ross noted that Neal had a cleaner criminal record than his co-defendant.

He will also have to complete 30 days of rehabilitation, 100 hours of unpaid work, and restorative justice, and will have to see the court for monthly reviews.

Both he and Lewis were banned from driving for two years.

The court did not hear exactly how the pair stole the vehicles.