A teenager was involved in handling stolen cars and drug dealing as his behaviour “spiralled out of control.”

Rio Gregory, now 19, was only 17 when he was involved in a string of car thefts in June 2022.

Bolton Crown Court heard how the first car, a red Vauxhall Astra, had been taken overnight from outside its rightful owner’s home in Breightmet on June 13.

Prosecutor Verity Quaite said: “When the police discovered the vehicle it was forensically examined and the defendant’s DNA was found in the vehicle.”

Gregory, of Thicketford Brow, Breightmet, looked on via video link from prison as Ms Quaite laid out what followed.

The Bolton News: The case was heard at Bolton Crown CourtThe case was heard at Bolton Crown Court (Image: Newsquest)

She told the court how Gregory’s DNA was then found on another stolen car, a Vauxhall that was taken from outside the Bolton Old Links Golf Club on June 19.

In this case the car had been driven from Kendal by a woman who had been going to the memorial of a friend of hers.

Ms Quaite said that a statement from the victim explained how this added to the “stress on what was already an emotional day.”

The final car, a Ford Eco Sport, was taken overnight between June 22 and 23 of that year and was found by police after a chase the next month.

Again, Gregory’s DNA connected him to the stolen car.

But Ms Quaite told the court how further crimes lay ahead in August 2022 when police searched Gregory’s home in Breightmet.

There they saw him appearing to try and get rid of bags out of the window and found bags of cocaine and cannabis along with cash and an iPhone and Nokia “burner” police.

Ms Quaite said: “Both phones are said to have contained evidence of drug dealing.”

Officers searched Gregory’s home again on May 16, 2023 when they found a packet of around £20 worth of cannabis.

On taking him in for questioning “approximately 10 minutes into the interview” Gregory started punching the wall and behaving aggressively towards the officer who was dealing with him.

He was eventually taken to the exercise yard to calm down and made no further comment in his next interview.

Finally on November 2 police again searched Gregory’s house, this time on a gun warrant.

No gun was found but again officers found cocaine, cannabis, snap bags, cash and a Nokia “burner” phone.

Gregory, who has four previous convictions for 10 offences, pleaded guilty to three counts of handling stolen goods.

He also confessed to possession with intent to supply Class A and Class B drugs and to possession of Class B drugs and to assaulting an emergency worker.

Gregory also pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

David Farley, defending, said that Gregory had earned credit for his guilty pleas and pointed out that he had been just 17 when some of the crimes were committed.

He also told the court that the assault on an emergency worker had referred to his “youthful outburst” while being questioned by police.

Mr Farley said: “He didn’t actually cause any injury or assault anyone, it was more of a threat to assault someone.”

He also said that his involvement in drugs was “more the hallmark of foolish youthful transgression than any sophisticated drug dealing enterprise.”

He added: “The hallmarks of his life are a reckless approach to just about everything.”

ALSO READ: Police crackdown on drug dealing after man charged with intent to supply

ALSO READ: Teen reversed car at police officer after inhaling from balloon

ALSO READ: The court cases that shook Bolton in 2023

Judge Jon Close accepted these points but reminded the court of the effect Gregory’s behaviour on others, especially the woman visiting a memorial whose car was stolen.

He also noted reports by the probation service about the 19-year-old defendant.

Judge Close said: “In essence they describe your behaviour as spiralling out of control.”

But he also noted that this was Gregory’s “first real experience of custody” and said he would sentence him as if he were still 17 years old.

Judge Close sentenced Gregory to four years and four months in a young offenders’ institution.