A Wallan man who “didn’t want to pay” for a petrol managed to get away without footing a bill a remarkable 20 times. And when police finally caught up with him he wasn’t quiet.

A man who simply “didn’t want to pay” for petrol managed to get away with almost $1750 worth, committing a staggering 20 petrol drive-offs, before he was arrested.

James Hewitt had either altered the number plates on his white Chevrolet ute or attached false plates to it each time he stole from petrol stations across Melbourne’s north.

But the Wallan man wasn’t able to hide from CCTV, with his face caught on camera as he committed the crimes, Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court has heard.

Hewitt’s 20 drive-offs began on September 2 last year, with his lawless attitude to petrol continuing all the way to May 30.

The former truck driver targeted Coles Express franchises, hitting stores in South Morang, Epping, Reservoir, Campbellfield, Mernda, Thomastown, Craigieburn and Broadmeadows.

He also stole from four other service stations, getting away with $1742.90 petrol in total.

The court heard there were no drug or alcohol issues behind the 36-year-old’s offending, just unemployment, for which he was receiving Centrelink payments.

“So he just didn’t want to pay for his petrol,” Magistrate Helen Murphy said.

“It’s kind of contemptuous of the rest of us.

“Everyone else has to pay for their petrol.

“But clearly, Mr Hewitt had formed the view that he didn’t need to.”

Ms Murphy said interestingly Hewitt’s offending continued during May, once petrol had become much more affordable.

The court heard when he was arrested and taken into custody on June 10 Hewitt became very aggressive towards police, verbally abusing staff and kicking the cell door.

First Constable Irwin Ee said Hewitt pressed the duress button so much it broke and threw wet toilet paper over the camera in the cells.

Hewitt pleaded guilty to all charges before the court on Thursday, June 11 after Ms Murphy indicated she would sentence him to a community corrections order.

Ms Murphy said while petrol theft was lower level offending, the number of incidents made it a serious situation, evidenced by police holding Hewitt in the cells overnight.

Taking into account he had no history of dishonesty offences, she sentenced him to a 12-month corrections order, including 80 hours community work, and fined him $800.

Extracted in full from: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north/wallans-james-hewitt-steals-petrol-from-coles-express/news-story/5c99fae8b411beb4a8ad62f72585e324