A DIESEL thief stole registration plates so he could refuel a friend’s car without paying, a court has heard.

Magistrates in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, heard Daniel Hobbs had spent a day driving his friend’s car in a bid to calm down after arguing with his partner.

Realising he had used most of the fuel, Hobbs decided to steal number plates to put on his friend’s car so he could flee without paying after refuelling, the court heard.

Prosecutor Vicky Wilson said CCTV footage showed the car being refuelled at Sedgefield on March 4 before being driven away.

Police traced the number plates, but found they had been stolen from a car in Trimdon earlier that day.

They then managed to find the owner of the car on CCTV who turned out to be Hobbs’ friend.

Hobbs, 29, of Aldridge Road in Middlesbrough, admitted he had stolen the number plates and then filled the car with £80.03 worth of diesel.

Laura Saunders-Jerome, representing Hobbs, said he had not wanted to return the car empty to his friend.

She said he had borrowed the car so he could cool down after arguing with his partner.

The court heard Hobbs was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months in February last year.

For the latest offences magistrates extended the suspended sentence period for two months and ordered him to pay £50 compensation to the number plate owner and £80.03 for the diesel.