A motorist who repeatedly fled service stations across mid Derbyshire without paying for £717.29 worth of fuel has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Wednesday, April 20, how assistant football manager Matthew Thomas Farmer, 44, struck 14 times at an Esso at Langley Mill, a Morrison’s at Eastwood, at Selston Services, at a Meteor Services, at South Normanton, and at a Co-op at Sutton-in-Ashfield.
He also admitted two counts of handling stolen goods after he was caught with two sets of stolen number plates which he had used while taking the fuel from garage forecourts in a City Rover and a Vauxhall Vectra.
Prosecuting solicitor Becky Allsop said: “Two vehicles were used going on petrol forecourts including a City Rover and he was seen getting out wearing a baseball cap and coat and then he left having put petrol into his vehicle.
“Police tracked down the identity of one vehicle because a rim was missing from a wheel and there was a distinctive wing mirror and body colouring and Farmer had sold this vehicle on.
“When police went to look at this vehicle they found sticky residue on the front and rear number plates.
“Farmer also purchased a Vauxhall Vectra which was linked to offences and in each of the cases it was involved in it was displaying stolen number plates and police carried out a stop-check and seized stolen plates from the boot of the car.”
The court also heard how the garages involved all have CCTV and record everyone who arrives and the vehicles and registration plates involved were clearly seen.
Farmer, of Cranwell Court, Meadow Rise, Nottingham, pleaded guilty to 14 charges of making off without payment and two counts of handling stolen goods which were all committed between May 2012 to March 2015.
Defence solicitor Kevin Tomlinson said: “Matthew Farmer is extremely ashamed and deeply embarrassed by his behaviour and is a man of otherwise positive good character.”
Mr Tomlinson explained that Farmer has suffered personal difficulties after his father’s death and began drinking too much and his marriage broke down.
He added: “The first time he got away with it and then he did it again and again and it unravelled.”
The court heard how father-of-two Farmer is an assistant manager with one of the region’s football clubs at semi-professional level.
Magistrates sentenced Farmer to a 20 week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months with 80 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge and £717.29 compensation.