AN UNSUSPECTING shopper returned to his parked car outside a Penrith supermarket and found it had been badly damaged.

The Jaguar car belonging to Gordon Carruthers had been kicked, leaving it with a large dent to a rear door, which cost nearly £1,5000 to repair.

At Carlisle's Rickergate Magistrates' Court, Benjamin Tyler, 40, admitted causing criminal damage to the vehicle.

Prosecutor John Moran said the damage was done on August 31. Mr Carruthers had returned to his Jaguar and been confronted by obvious damage.

An off-duty police officer had seen the defendant kicking the side of his car. The officer approached Tyler after seeing this happen and detained him while waiting for uniformed officers to attend the scene.

When they arrived, Tyler was immediately arrested.

Mr Moran said: "Mr Carruthers had gone into the shop and when he came out he saw the damage to the nearside rear door of his car. He said that he was annoyed that somebody would damage his property .

"The door was badly dented; it was significant damage."

The total cost of repairing the damage was estimated at £1,448. Chris Toms, for Tyler, of Abbots Bank, Friargate, Penrith, said the defendant had struggled with his mental health all his life.

The lawyer said: "He got good A-levels, went to university, but then dropped out at the end of his first year."

Tyler had since been diagnosed with schizophrenia and now had a community psychiatric nurse assigned to him.

Mr Toms said: "It is a long time since he was in a courtroom, but he wants to apologise to everyone concerned."

The lawyer added that Tyler had struggled to recall what happened that day and he had no idea what motivated him to damage the car.

But at no point did he seek to deny that he was responsible.

He had cooperated with the police from the start. After hearing the details, magistrates took note of the defendant's mental health issues; and of the fact that he had cooperated with the police after his arrest.

But they noted also that what happened had been an entirely unprovoked attack on the car and that it would be unfair for Mr Carruthers to be faced with paying for that damage.

At the very least, he would lose his insurance no claims bonus or have to pay an excess. The magistrates said the defendant should pay £600 compensation to the victim. They hoped that the sum could be deducted automatically from Tyler's benefits.