A man who turned his car into ‘a mobile bomb’ by storing stolen petrol in his boot has been told it was ‘an horrendous accident waiting to happen’.
Daryl Wyatt, 24, went on a crime spree between July 18 and July 28 last year, stealing number plates from cars and filling his own vehicle with petrol at garages around Sunderland, before driving off without paying.
More dangerously, though, Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard how on two occasions Wyatt took more petrol than would fit in his tank and stored the highly-flammable fuel in the boot.
Sunderland City Councillor Ellen Ball - who is aunt to Wyatt’s mother - provided a character reference, which was handed to magistrates but was not read out in open court.
Wyatt, of Rowan Close, South Hylton, was able to walk free from court after the bench suspended his 42-week prison sentence for 18 months.
Prosecutor Keith Laidlaw said that in all cases, Wyatt had stolen number plates – worth £176 in total – overnight before placing them on his vehicle the next day.
I have a letter of reference here from Coun Ellen Ball, who, because of his criminal activity, didn’t want anything to do with him due to her capacity as a councillor. She is his aunt and she is so impressed with his progress, that she has assisted, despite the fact she is a councillor, and sent a letter for consideration to yourselves.Elisabeth Dunbar, defending
He then took £378.56 of fuel from the Wessington Way Service Station, Shell and BP Snax on Grindon Broadway, and Sainsbury’s at The Galleries, in Washington.
He stole a new set of plates each time, bar one occasion when he re-used the same set of stolen plates twice.
Wyatt, admitted five counts of making off without payment, and four of theft from a motor vehicle.
He was jailed earlier this year after he gatecrashed a family barbecue by shooting off a firework and threatening a guest with a knife in May last year.
On that occasion, Wyatt turned up to his girlfriend’s house in Sunderland armed with the weapons as he threatened his partner’s mother, despite being on early-release licence for another offence. He was given 10 months jail by a judge at Newcastle Crown Court, after pleading guilty to affray, possession of a pointed article and dangerous driving. He had previously been handed a suspended sentence after an earlier incident with a knife.
Elisabeth Dunbar, defending, said Wyatt had turned over a new leaf after his baby girl was born and he had secured a job in asbestos removal, earning him £500 per week. She said all his progress would be undone, should he be sent to prison immediately.
“He has an extremely supportive family,” Ms Dunbar told the bench. “I have a letter of reference here from Coun Ellen Ball, who, because of his criminal activity, didn’t want anything to do with him due to her capacity as a councillor.
“She is so impressed with his progress, that she has assisted, despite the fact she is a councillor, and sent a letter for consideration to yourselves.”
Ms Dunbar added: “At the time of these offences, Daryl was hanging around with the wrong people. He was involved in things she shouldn’t have been involved in. He is not trying to blame anyone else. He takes full responsibility.”
Sentencing Wyatt, bench chairman Liz Hogg said: “The petrol taken was stored in the boot of the car – that is like a mobile bomb on the road. It’s an horrendous accident waiting to happen.”
She added that she had no choice but to impose a prison sentence – albeit a suspended one – “because of the seriousness and because of the danger to the public, and, because it was also part of a spree.”
Wyatt was also told to pay £554.56 in compensation, a victim surcharge of £80 and costs of £200.