A prolific fuel thief has had his 36-week sentence upheld on appeal at Plymouth Crown Court.

Nineteen-year-old Nathan Harris stole fuel worth nearly £1,500 by driving off without paying an astonishing 24 times. In his defence, he said he was desperate and once he started he could not stop doing it.

According to the Plymouth Herald, he used three different cars (a Fiesta, a Mondeo and a BMW) and sometimes a big container in the boot to take both petrol and diesel.

Harris admitted three counts of dishonestly making off without payment from petrol stations.

The newspaper said he drove off with unleaded fuel worth £30 from a site in Plymouth on August 30; diesel worth £223 from a forecourt in Exeter on September 5; and diesel again from that city on September 12. Harris then asked for 21 similar matters to be taken into consideration.

Harris’ crime spree didn’t come to an end until he was stopped by an Asda security guard after stealing 16 beef joints in the Estover store on September 22. He then confessed to the drive-offs, which had been caught on CCTV and were being investigated by police.

He was sentenced at the Magistrates Court but his lawyer appealed saying the magistrates had imposed too harsh a sentence. However, a judge sitting with two magistrates who were new to the case rejected the appeal and upheld the original 36-week sentence in a young offenders’ institution.