A  Burnie dad experiencing bouts of homelessness used stolen fuel cards to fraudulently take more than $70,000 worth of fuel from petrol stations across Tasmania.

Matthew Dale Perry, 35, pleaded guilty to 57 counts of fraud committed over five separate days between November 2022 and June 2023.

Perry, who would sell or exchange the diesel for drugs or money, or to pay for a place to sleep, had been spending “considerable periods of time” sleeping on the streets or in empty buildings.

He told police he committed the crimes so he’d have money for stable accommodation and be able to provide for his children.

While sentencing, Supreme Court judge Tamara Jago said a Bennett’s Petroleum card was stolen from Devonport’s Don College in November 2022, with Perry using it on 25 occasions to remove 21,062.98 litres of diesel, worth $49,993.41, from unmanned 24/7 petrol stations at Cambridge and Bagdad.

“The amount of diesel taken was so significant that it drained the tank at the Cambridge station,” Justice Jago said.

“That led to enquiries being undertaken.”

Justice Jago said in February 2023, a fuel card was stolen from a van belonging to Spraoi Child Care, with Perry using it at the Cambridge petrol station.

In June 2023, a fuel card issued to Treloar and Civil Quarries was stolen from a car, with Perry using it to steal 5113.64 litres of fuel from Cambridge and Bagdad, and also using it 23 times at a Bonney Energy manned service station in Devonport, taking 6936.4 litres of fuel, worth $11,680.47.

Justice Jago said CCTV footage showed Perry arriving at the service stations, either in a ute towing a trailer containing a large plastic tank, or in a white transit van with tanks in the back.

He would operate the pumps and put fuel hoses into those tanks.

Perry also wore a VEC Civil Engineering jacket to the manned service station to “give the appearance of being a legitimate customer”.

“You told police you did it for money because you wanted to be able to obtain stable accommodation so as to provide for your children,” Justice Jago said.

The judge said she’d been told Perry has since secured accommodation at the Burnie Lodge, that his life has “stabilised considerably”, and that he was determined to now address his drug issues.

Perry was sentenced to a drug treatment order with 10 months in custody, which he does not need to serve unless he fails to comply with his conditions.

Extracted in full from:  https://www.themercury.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts-tasmania/burnie-bowser-bandit-sleeping-on-the-streets-before-70k-fraudulent-fuel-spree-across-tasmania/news-story/7835f6a84797e5be9ed883f1081a5f99

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