Caught ‘sucking diesel’ from lorry

Court

Court

A man caught red-handed sucking diesel from a lorry in Larne has been given a suspended jail sentence after a judge said a strong message had to be sent out to deter others.

Ryan Robert Connor (35), of Ballyfore Gardens, Newtownabbey, was spotted acting suspiciously at the side of a lorry belonging to construction firm McLaughlin & Harvey at a worker’s yard in Larne’s Circular Road on January 23 this year.

Connor, who had dozens of previous convictions, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to the theft of diesel worth £150 which was found in five drums.

A charge of going equipped to steal by using a battery and a fuel pump for use in theft, was withdrawn.

A prosecutor said police received a report of suspicious activity and they found a car, with the boot open, parked beside a lorry and pipes operated by a battery and fuel pump, connected the two vehicles.

When interviewed, Connor insisted he was only at the scene to help another person to load drums into a car.

Defence barrister Aaron Thompson said the defendant now admitted his involvement in the theft claimed another person was not detected and instead his client was “left to carry the cans, excuse the pun”.

He said Connor had been struggling for money and got involved to “help someone else”.

Imposing five months in prison, suspended for two years, District Judge Peter King said he needed to send out a very strong message that such crime was unacceptable.

He said: “It is quite clear that there was a degree of organisation and professionalism in this enterprise” and added that thankfully Connor was detected.

The judge said he was suspending the jail term as he had taken into account the guilty plea and the defence submission that there was another person involved.