A SCRAP dealer stole number plates from a car parked outside a Chinese restaurant so his car would not be identified when he filled it with petrol he could not afford, a court was told on Tuesday.
Harrogate magistrates heard how William John Finney, a former resident of the local authority travellers’ site at Bickerton, near Wetherby, had put plates for a Ford Ka he stole from The Sweet Basil Restaurant on the A59 Harrogate-York road at Green Hammerton, on his Mazda before driving it to a filling station in Boroughbridge Road, on the outskirts of York, filling up with £74.86 worth of petrol and driving off.
When Finney, a 36-year-old father of three pleaded guilty to theft and making off without payment, he also admitted stealing two lorry sideboard panels belonging to Harrogate Scaffolding from a compound at Grimbald Park, in Wetherby Road, Knaresborough.
Prosecutor Jessica Strange said Finney, now living in Sandbach, Cheshire, had been frank when police interviewed him. He had said of the scaffolding company’s panels: ‘‘Give them back and tell them I am sorry. I am an idiot.’’
Miss Strange said Finney had a criminal record which contained 34 convictions for 77 offences, many of them fraud, theft and associated matters. He had last appeared in court, at Harrogate, in February when he was fined for handling stolen goods and had served a number of custodial sentences.
In mitigation Andrew Tinning said the handling offence, like the current ones, had taken an inordinate length of time to reach court. This seemed strange as Finney had fully admitted the latest trio of offences in September and had then spent six months waiting for them to come to court. Finney acknowledged his record would not assist him when it came to sentence.
Mr Tinning said he had operated two trucks both of which had now been seized by the police. He had driven his car to Durham to enquire about repairs to one of them and had realised he did not have enough petrol to get to Bickerton.
Because he had no money he decided to fill up and drive off, but wanted to ensure he was not traced through his Mazda’s registration number.
Finney, whose wife was said to be pregnant with the couple’s fourth child, had had to go on benefits because police had taken his wagons. But he had now bought another vehicle and was working legitimately.
Finney was made subject to a one-year community order with 80 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £85 costs, £26 compensation for the number plates and £74.86 for the fuel.