A JAIL sentence hangs over a teenage mechanic who went on a forecourt “drive-off” spree using registration plates stolen from other vehicles.
Ford Fiesta driver Joseph Sutherland removed the number plates from four vehicles of a similar age in the Chesterfield and Bakewell areas.
He fitted them to his car and made off without paying for diesel at filling stations in Chesterfield, Calver, Matlock and Froggatt Edge.
John Cooper, prosecuting, told Chesterfield magistrates that Sutherland (18) stole fuel on 13 occasions.
“He said he did it because he was short of money.
“It was quite clearly planned offending,” said Mr Cooper.
Sutherland, of Kneescroft, Westwick Lane, Holymoorside, admitted theft offences between April 12 and June 7.
He had a previous conviction for dishonesty.
He was given a four-month jail term but it was suspended for a year by presiding magistrate Jean Leah.
She also imposed 80 hours unpaid work and a one-year probation supervision order, with £429 compensation and £85 costs.
“He came up with the idea of changing number plates and obtaining fuel without paying and, once he found how easy it was to do, he continued,” said probation officer Gerry Starnes.
“He handed himself in to police when he realised the error of his ways.”
Mr Starnes said Sutherland, who suffered from bipolar depressive disorder, was short of cash after paying his board.
He said he stole fuel to visit friends and get to work at Elliot Motorsport in Bakewell.
His solicitor, Bob Bashforth said: “He doesn’t fit the template of young people who appear here charged with this and other types of offence.
“He has been to private school.
“The previous offence was a prank that went too far.
“He rowed around in a boat on a fishing lake and then entered an old caravan used as a site office and took some fishing gear.”