A CRIMINAL carefully hid his identity with a balaclava and successfully fled from police - but was tracked down after ripping flesh from his arm as he vaulted a spiked fence.

The officers found flesh and hair on the spikes and when they later made inquiries at the local accident and emergency department they were able to identify Marc Hope as the culprit through DNA evidence.

Hope, aged 32, who had torn the flesh from his left arm and needed 15 stitches, today, Friday, pleaded guilty to handling a stolen £26,000 Mercedes 180 and was jailed for 12 months.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Hope, of Kipling Grove, Leigh, has previous convictions and was on bail for another handling offence at the time of his latest crime.

Andrew Downie, prosecuting, said that the keys for the car were stolen in a "hook and cane" burglary in Collier Grove, Atherton, on August 28 last year. Late the next afternoon the car was spotted in a car park in Johnson Street, Atherton and police kept watch.

After earlier visits to the car by men on bicycles three men, including Hope, appeared, all wearing balaclavas and one used a key fob to open it and they got into the vehicle. When the officers approached they all fled but were all later tracked down and arrested.

One of the the other men, who have already been sentenced, told police that he had bought the keys for the vehicle for £300 and intended "to steal the wheels."

Katy Appleton, defending, said that Hope, who has a young son, had been using cocaine at the time and would not otherwise have got involved. A friend had invited him to come along for a drive and he knew "something was dodgy."

Hope, described as subject to peer pressure, has been under a night time curfew for the last six months, she added.