A BUSINESSMAN who stole a £2,900 car from an 80-year-old garage boss has been warned he is likely to be jailed.

William Wade test drove the Peugeot 405 after calling at Grocondo Tramontana's garage in Clows Top, near Bewdley.

He persuaded the pensioner to let him show the car to a customer. But he then sold it and used the proceeds to clear another debt.

Wade, aged 49, of Oaklee, Hallow, near Worcester, claimed he was involved in several business deals and was waiting for cheques to clear in order to repay the garage.

He denied the theft.

But a jury at Worcester Crown Court convicted him yesterday after a two- day trial, and then heard he had a record for dishonesty going back to 1964.

In 1995 he was jailed for three years for a counterfeit notes conspiracy.

Granting Wade bail for a pre-sentence report to be prepared, Recorder Richard Rundell told him: "The likelihood is that you will go to prison."

Wade, arrested six months after the theft in June last year, had previously worked for the victim when he owned a quarry near Stourport-on-Severn.

During the trial the jury heard Wade had called at the garage on Monday, June 5, last year.

After the test drive, he claimed he knew someone interested in buying the £2,900 car and drove off in it.

Samantha Crabb, prosecuting, said he failed to return as promised that day, but came back the next day and took Mr Tramontana on a five-hour trip in another car on the pretext of obtaining cash for the Peugeot.

Mr Tramontana's son made more than 100 phone calls trying to get the defendant to pay up or return the car. He eventually handed over a cheque which bounced.

Defence counsel Heidi Kubik told the jury Wade had got involved in a business deal which turned into a bad debt.

But Miss Crabb said he used delaying tactics then told police a "cock and bull story" in a bid to disguise the theft.