A father from Stowupland appeared in court after admitting to driving away without paying for petrol six times in a month.

Steven Peart, 37, pleaded guilty to six counts of making off without payment on Tuesday, February 6, at Suffolk Magistrates Court in Ipswich.

The court heard that the offences took place between November 30 and December 23 at the Co-op petrol station in Stowmarket. In total, Peart had stolen £278.61 worth of fuel.

The court heard that Peart, of Trinity Walk, Stowupland, had fallen on hard times, having developed a gambling addiction which led to him losing his job as a warehouse operative in December.

Peart’s defence barrister explained that he is also a single parent to a five-year-old child, having lost his partner some years ago.

 The father-of-one had therefore found himself “at rock bottom”, the court heard, which led to his filling up his car with petrol in order to take his child to and from school.

In court on Tuesday was the defendant's brother. The court heard that the 37-year-old was being supported by his family, and that his gambling addiction has been “curbed” since December.

He was fined a total of £578.61, which included compensation to the Co-op. On this occasion, the presiding magistrates said that court costs would be waived.

The magistrates said that, while they could understand that Mr Peart was “clearly having a difficult time,” they said that this did not excuse his having stolen the petrol.