AN ASPIRING taxi driver has admitted stealing a van from a Haddington rental firm.

David Pickup, 29, hired the Transit van from The Car and Van Rental Company in February but failed to return the vehicle on time.

Pickup then continued to drive and use the van for his own use after the date he had agreed to return the van to the company.

Solicitor Stephen Mannifield told Edinburgh Sheriff Court that his client had not “set out to steal the van” as he had handed over his full personal details to the company when he hired and paid for the rental of the vehicle.

But the lawyer conceded that Pickup, from Edinburgh, had kept the van “for longer than he should have”, resulting in the vehicle being reported stolen.

Mr Mannifield added that Pickup had been unemployed recently but had applied for a private hire taxi licence and could be employed within weeks if he did not lose his licence due to the court case.

Sheriff Gordon Liddle told Pickup he would mostly likely find “difficulty” in gaining a driving position due to the conviction but agreed not to ban him from driving.

The sheriff sentenced Pickup to complete 100 hours of unpaid work in the community and warned the offender that the sentence was “a direct alternative to custody”.

Pickup, 29, has four months the complete the work order.

Pickup admitted stealing a panel van from The Car and Van Rental Company, Hospital Road, on February 2.