A van was adapted with a drum inside so that a 47-year-old man could steal fuel from various filling stations including one in Dromore and another in Banbridge.
Stephen Robert McDonald, Glenholm Drive, Belfast, appeared last Thursday at Banbridge Magistrates Court.
At a previous court he had pleaded guilty to four charges of going equipped to steal with false number plates and four of theft of fuel.
The amounts involved were £75 from Brackenvale filling station, Saintfield Road, Carryduff, on April 24 last year, £87 from Poole’s Supervalu, Banbridge Road, Dromore, on June 7 last year, £67.91 from Spar, Dromore Road, Banbridge, on May 8 last year and £63.30 from Newry filling station, Belfast Road, Newry, on May 16.
However McDonald denied the theft of fuel valued at £86.56 from the Maxol station, Dromore, on June 8 last year and going equipped for theft with false number plates on the same date.
At last Thursday’s court the two charges he denied were withdrawn by the prosecution.
A public prosecutor said the van had been adapted with a large drum inside and had false number plates.
When he was later interviewed by police and CCTV viewed he admitted the offences.
A solicitor representing McDonald said it was an unusual case.
He pointed out that the defendant had no relevant record.
And he said his client had paid back all the money involved.
The solicitor explained that at the time the defendant’s financial situation was dire and he devised this scheme which was foolhardy to say the least. He was easily apprehended.
District Judge, Mr Eamonn King, said it was obvious the defendant was going to be caught.
He added that he had a document which showed that all the victims had been repaid and on that basis he imposed a conditional discharge for 12 months on each offence.