A MAN caught behind the wheel of a stolen £40,000 Range Rover, claimed he had only agreed to look after for someone else in return for a £50 payment.

Bolton magistrates heard how Asrear Zulifqar refused to name the people who left the car with him just minutes before police found him in the driver's seat on Back Lever Edge Lane, Bolton on March 18.

Zulifqar, aged 39, of Calvert Road, Bolton, pleaded guilty to receiving the stolen Ranger Rover and having no licence or insurance.

Tara Riley, prosecuting, told how, at 8pm that day, police had spotted the vehicle going through a no entry sign and, after it stopped, Zulifqar attempted to run off but was caught a short time later.

When arrested Zulifqar insisted that he had not stolen the car and when checks were made on the Range Rover, police discovered that it had been stolen three days earlier.

"The owner did not know how the vehicle had been taken because they were actually still in possession of the keys," said Miss Riley.

The court heard that Zulifqar has several previous convictions including for driving whilst banned, having no insurance and receiving stolen goods.

Michael Garstang. defending, stressed that the Range Rover had not been stolen by Zulifqar.

"He wasn't the thief," said Mr Garstang. "The vehicle was stolen from the owners driveway several days before.

"My client came into possession of it minutes before he was arrested.

"He chose not divulge those who brought the vehicle to him to look after.

"He knows that if he were to disclose then his life would not be worth living and his family would be in jeopardy."

Mr Garstang said Zulifqar, who has a partner and three sons, had been asked to look after the vehicle overnight and it would be collected the next day.

"The engine was running and there were no keys with it. They simply said look after it until the morning and we will collect it from the street outside where you live," he said.

Zulifqar, a self-employed vehicle paint sprayer, expected to receive £50 for the task but police arrived on the scene as he was in the process of moving the Range Rover to a safe place around the corner.

Mr Garstang requested that a pre-sentence report be produced on Mr Zulifqar before he is sentenced.

Magistrates agreed not to send the case to Crown Court for sentence.

Instead the case was adjourned and Zulifqar will be sentenced at Wigan Magistrates' Court on October 7.