A THIEF who drove off without paying for fuel from petrol stations 23 times during a four-month crime spree has escaped an immediate jail sentence.

Robert Dorrington stole number plates from other motorists to put on his BMW in a bid to avoid detection as he targeted filling stations in Newport, Torfaen, Monmouthshire and Cardiff.

The 48-year-old stole more than £2,000 of fuel as part of a ruse which took place between August and December 2018.


Dorrington ripped off companies like Shell, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and the Co-op.

His barrister told Newport Crown Court how the defendant’s life had spiralled out of control after he started taking cocaine following the break-up of a relationship.

Prosecutor Thomas Stanway said Dorrington had continued to carry on driving off without paying for fuel after he was convicted of the same offence last October.

As well as filling up the tank of his BMW, he would take fuel cans with him.

The most Dorrington stole in a single theft was £148.68 from a service station in Raglan.

Mr Stanway said the offending would either take place in the early hours of the morning or in the evening.

Judge Daniel Williams was told the defendant, of Sickert Close, Newport, had 18 previous convictions for 42 offences.

Dorrington pleaded guilty to 23 counts of making off without payment and five of stealing number plates.

Jeff Jones, mitigating, said: “The defendant turned to class A drugs after a long-term relationship ended.

“He succumbed to the temptation of class A drugs and it is not a sensible course as it is expensive, harmful and illegal.

“His life went out of control. He was arrested on Christmas Eve and spent Christmas Day being interviewed by the police.

“He vowed not to take drugs again.”

Mr Jones added that client was “remorseful and ashamed” of his offending and looked after his father.

Judge Williams said there had been a delay in bringing the matter to court and jailed Dorrington for nine months, suspended for 18 months.

The defendant must carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the community.

He was disqualified from driving for six months and ordered to pay £50 compensation, £300 prosecution costs and a £140 victim surcharge.

Dorrington thanked the judge as left the dock.