A Bradford man threatened to stab a vehicle owner as he tried to steal his car during an early-morning burglary in which a claw hammer was brandished.

Dale Poppleton, 33, had locked himself into the man’s Volvo after stealing the keys from his house in Bingley.

Bradford Crown Court heard that he tried, unsuccessfully, to start the engine while the man desperately attempted to open the car door.

The victim even grabbed a rock with the intention of smashing his way into the vehicle.

Then another man, brandishing the hammer and wearing a ski mask, appeared.

Prosecutor Samuel Andrews told the court yesterday: “He was holding a claw hammer which he raised in a threatening manner. He shouted ‘get away from the car’, and the victim backed off.

“Poppleton then said ‘you can have your keys back’. They then moved away and ran off.”

The court heard that Poppleton, of Ayton Close, Barkerend, Bradford, did not actually have a weapon with him.

Judge Colin Burn said: “You threatened to stab him, but I accept you had no means of carrying out that threat – maybe the car keys, but not a knife.”

Referring to the second, unknown, assailant, Judge Burn said: “He must have presented a pretty terrifying prospect to the victim.”

Mr Andrews said that the couple were asleep in bed at their home on Sunny Mount, Bingley, when the man was woken by a loud bang at about 5.15am.

He looked out of the window and saw a man running towards the rear of his garden, said Mr Andrews. The man and his wife ran downstairs – he bumped his head on the way, the court was told – and found that doors out of the kitchen were wide open.

It was then that the man confronted Poppleton on the driveway.

Jeremy Hill-Baker, defending, said Poppleton had a viable legal argument because police issued a photograph of him to the Press, in relation to other matters, that was published the day before the burglary victims picked him out of an identification parade.

But, said Mr Hill-Baker, his client had decided not to pursue it. “It would have been easy for him to fight the case and get the householder to give evidence,” said Mr Hill-Baker. “But he has not done that.”

Poppleton pleaded guilty to burglary and attempted theft of a vehicle. He was jailed for three years and seven months.