Published: 15:33, 12 June 2019
| Updated: 16:35, 12 June 2019
A petrol thief facing more than 20 charges of bilking claimed he was late for his sentencing hearing after running out of fuel.
Kevin Carr had been arrested for failing to show up at a previous hearing, but was given a dressing down by a judge and told to turn up on time the following day.
Judge Julian Smith told him: “Not a minute late. Or else!”
But the 37-year-old ran into Maidstone Crown Court out of breath more than five minutes late.
He then left barristers and court staff open-mouthed after claiming he had run out of petrol.
Carr’s girlfriend then chipped in: "Well, we have to buy it legally these days.”
He admitted 21 offences of making off after filling containers and then doing a runner without paying in June and September last year and was jailed for seven months.
Bilking is defined as the act of driving onto a forecourt and deliberately driving away without paying for fuel.
"It was thought through, planned and organised..." Judge Smith
Prosecutor John Fitzgerald told the court Carr wore a high-visibility yellow jacket with orange trousers and drove a car bearing false plates when he pulled onto garage forecourts to fill up empty jerry cans.
Carr, of Fort Pitt Street, Chatham, then made off with the petrol, totalling £2,300, to sell on.
He was initially arrested on June 30, having been spotted in a lay-by fixing false plates to his Honda Civic.
Inside the vehicle were nine containers full of petrol and his clothing matched that seen in CCTV footage.
But having been released on bail, he continued with his scam and helped himself to fuel on 12 more occasions in September.
He was re-arrested a month later and again released by police, but this time with unusual bail conditions banning him from numerous fuel stations in Dartford, Chatham, Sheerness and Sittingbourne, and from keeping containers larger than five litres in his car.
William McBarnett, defending, said Carr was homeless, living in his Honda and stealing fuel 'to get by'.
The court heard his nine previous convictions for 17 offences include six for making off without payment, as well as assault, burglary, harassment and drink-driving.
Judge Smith said although there was a commercial motive for his offending, it was not 'large-scale, grand theft'.
He added:"But it was thought through, planned and organised. You had false plates and wore high visibility clothing to disguise your purpose.
"The acts were extensive in their quantity and number."
Carr was jailed for six months for the fuel offences plus a further month to be served consecutively after he admitted failing to turn up to a previous crown court hearing in December.