‘Relationship has calmed me’ – says teen who stole diesel

A TEENAGER whose stupidity led him to crime told a court he was now in a stable relationship which had calmed him down and brought him hope of a trouble-free life.

Shaun Michael Clarke, 19, of Claro Avenue, Harrogate, appeared before the town’s magistrates on Thursday, November 17 to plead guilty to stealing diesel worth £25 from a van parked outside the Royal Mail sorting office at Claro Court Business Centre in Claro Road.

Prosecutor Steven Ovenden said a postal worker had gone to investigate when he heard noises from the car park at 8.55pm on September 25. A man wearing a grey hooded top and jeans had quit the scene but had left behind siphoning equipment including a drum which contained 4.5 gallons of diesel.

The clumsy culprit had also left his fingerprints behind and police enquiries led them to Clarke – who was part-way through a community order with 80 hours of unpaid work and seven added for a breach - who could offer no explanation for his prints being at a crime scene.

Clarke’s solicitor Abdul Iftikhar said he had been picked up by a friend who had hired a van which was running short of fuel. The friend had asked Clarke if he could buy diesel but neither he nor the driver had any money.

So the friend suggested Clarke should steal on his behalf, from the Royal Mail depot and Clarke, who had been surprised to find the friend had the siphoning equipment stored in his van, foolishly allowed himself to be persuaded into committing an offence.

When he was disturbed at his work he left the equipment – and the diesel he had stolen – behind. Clarke had not been going to gain from the offence, the fuel would merely have been poured into the hire van.

Mr Iftikhar said Clarke, who was unemployed, had formed a relationship with a woman - who had come to court to support him - who had brought stability and a calming effect to his life. He now spent more of his time indoors.

At the time of the offence he had been traumatised by the death of his father and acted out of stupidity. ‘‘Now he is in a relationship hopefully there won’t be any repetition of this type of behaviour,’’ said Mr Iftikhar.

Clarke was made subject to a six-month community order with probation supervision and was ordered to pay £85 costs.