A Lewisham man has walked free from court after admitting buying a stolen bike worth £2,000 belonging to a medal-winning Blackheath cyclist.

Bike owner Vernon Thomas, 69, was set to compete in the World Champion Duathlon in Spain when he discovered three customised bikes, collectively worth around £6,000, had vanished from his garden shed in Lee Park, on May 8.

An online Twitter campaign to find the culprit went viral after the manager of the victim’s bike shop spotted one of the cycles being ridden through Hither Green and took snaps.

At Bromley Magistrates’ Court on June 19, Ashley Moore, of Marischal Road, was given a 12 week sentence, suspended for 12 months.

News Shopper: Pictures went viral of Ashley Moore riding the stolen bike through Hither Green

The 20-year-old was told by magistrates he was “lucky to escape prison” and was also ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work.

Moore was arrested after an anonymous female caller told police who was pictured in the photos circulating online.

He claimed he bought the black Swiss time trial bike with Zipp wheels for £200 and returned it when he was photographed riding it, but would not reveal the seller.

Unemployed Moore, who hopes to work in construction, is currently serving a nine month supervision order for stealing another expensive bike and had completed a ‘thinking skills’ course under a previous court’s direction.

Defending, Kath Jatter, told the court: “Sometimes when you meet people it is almost quite distressing - someone who has so many decent qualities and is quite a young man - it is just quite distressing when you see them put themselves in the perilous position which of course he has done today.

“Apparently both to the probation officer and I, he behaved impulsively on this occasion and somewhat greedily he has seen a bike, he knows it is way undervalued and he is tempted and follows through the temptation.

“It was unwise and it has put him in this perilous position.”

News Shopper: Police want to speak to this man

She went on to say he was “remorseful” and whilst his thinking skills programme had not worked in this case, he might have walked away from other temptations.

Moore had earlier pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods on May 29 at Bromley Magistrates’ Court.

As well as his suspended sentence, he was ordered to pay £2,000 to the victim, plus £85 prosecution costs and £80 statutory surcharge.

Chair Mr Patterson told him: “Mr Moore you are a fortunate young man.

“Ordinarily we would send you to prison for this offence, however Ms Jatter has made a very eloquent defence of why you shouldn’t be sent to prison today.

“Ms Jatter has done a good job on your behalf, but this is really your last chance to avoid custody.”