A man has been sentenced to four years in prison after admitting to stealing fuel and driving over a petrol station attendant as he made his getaway.

Stephen Wilkinson, of no fixed abode, appeared at Cambridge Crown Court to be sentenced on Thursday, March 13, after pleading guilty a month earlier to assault and making off without payment.

The 29-year-old was charged with 21 offences of taking fuel from garages in Stevenage, Hitchin, Knebworth, Welwyn Garden City, St Albans, Borehamwood and Hatfield.

In total he stole fuel worth an estimated £1,300 between January and July last year.

During one of these incidents on July 28 last year, a member of staff at Sainsbury’s petrol station in Magpie Crescent, Stevenage, recognised Wilkinson from a previous theft of petrol and went to stop him from driving away.

The man was dragged under the wheels of Wilkinson’s car as he reversed and required surgery for a fractured knee and ankle as a result of his injuries.

Wilkinson was also convicted of dangerous driving and having no insurance or a driving licence.

The judge commended the victim’s bravery at trying to stop Wilkinson during the sentencing.

Detective constable Emma Landucci said: “I would also like to commend the bravery of the man who tried to stop Stephen Wilkinson. The victim put his own life at risk to prevent him from committing further crime.

“I would also like to thank the numerous members of the public who came forward to assist our investigation.”