A SERIAL petrol thief stole fuel from a number of service stations so he could visit his mum in hospital.
At Ipswich Magistrates Court, Michael John Cowan pleaded guilty to stealing fuel six times.
The bulk of the offences took place from July 26, 2012 to August 10, 2012.
On one occasion, the 28-year-old filled up and fled the pumps without paying twice in one day.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Brad Dick said Cowan had netted more than $150 in stolen fuel.
Defence lawyer Amy Little said Cowan's mum had been in post-operative care in hospital for a brain and spinal infection when her client committed most of his offences.
Ms Little said Cowan's mum had been in a critical condition and that he stole the petrol "out of desperation" to travel to the hospital.
She said her client suffered mental health problems and was remorseful for stealing the fuel.
Ms Little said Cowan made full admissions to police when caught on August 10, 2012.
In addition to the stealing charge, Cowan also pleaded guilty one count of drug possession and two traffic offences.
Magistrate Barry Cosgrove noted Cowan's criminal history was filled with offences of dishonesty.
Mr Cosgrove said Cowan's desire to visit his mum in hospital did not excuse his stealing.
"If you were that desperate I am sure there would have been someone you could have turned to assist you," he told him.
"A number of these stealing charges were for relatively low amounts; however each of them is a separate, serious offence."
In his sentencing, Mr Cosgrove said there needed to be a message of general deterrence so others would not commit the same crime.
In relation to the stealing charges, Cowan was convicted and sentenced to four months in jail, suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay $158.87 in restitution for the stolen fuel.
He was also fined $400 for the drug possession offence and a further $362 for the traffic charges.
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