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Fuel thief 'going through bad patch' at time of offences

Luke Fitzgerald

A man who stole fuel from two service stations within a month claimed he was "low on finance" and going through a bad patch.

Luke Fitzgerald (26) may avoid a prison sentence for the thefts if he is deemed suitable for community service work.

The defendant had his case adjourned until April for a probation report to see if he is suitable to undertake community service work.

Balbriggan District Court heard that the defendant drove his vehicle into the forecourt of Applegreen Service Station southbound on the M1 at Lusk Junction.

He filled his car up with €38.39 worth of fuel, before entering the shop where he bought a bottle of cola but did not pay for the fuel.

Two weeks later, he drove his vehicle into the forecourt of the Applegreen Service Station south on the M1 and filled his car up with €52.42 worth of fuel and drove off without paying.

Both incidents were captured on CCTV and Fitzgerald was identified.

Two further charges of theft from the service stations were struck out as no evidence was produced in court.

Difficulties

The defendant, of Glasmore Park in Swords, pleaded guilty to the thefts of fuel from the service stations last June 20 and last July 3.

He had one previous conviction for criminal damage dating back to 2013, the court heard.

Defence barrister Annette Kealy said the defendant had moved to the UK five years ago after struggling to find work.

"He came back and forth and because of relationship difficulties he came home full-time to salvage it. When he came home he couldn't get work and went through a bad patch," said Ms Kealy, adding the defendant was "low on finances" at the time.

"He acted stupidly and very much regrets his actions and he is remorseful."

Ms Kealy said the defendant was now labouring, adding: "He has pleaded guilty with remorse and shame and has €120 in compensation."

Judge Dermot Dempsey ordered checks to see if the defendant was suitable for community service in lieu of jail and adjourned the case until April for finalisation.