A BRAZEN diesel thief has been handed a hefty fine and a suspended prison sentence after targeting the same County Durham business nine times in the space of three months – taking hundreds of litres of fuel over that timeframe.

David Anthony Bellerby, 40, of Victoria Street, Shotton Colliery, broke in at fruit and vegetable wholesalers, Holcrofts, in Peterlee, on a burglary spree that began in February 2022.

Starting on February 5, 2022, Bellerby trespassed on the company's property on Winchester Drive, Peterlee, where he stole cash and a building key worth £300.

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He then stole an ‘unknown quantity’ of diesel on April 5, April 6, April 9, April 15 and April 30 – to which the financial gain is unknown, according to court documents.

Bellerby also stole eight 20 litres of diesel on April 22 and a further 20 drums of 20 litre diesel on April 23 – again, the financial gain was unknown.

In total, he was charged with nine separate offences, which he pleaded guilty to all nine.

The 40-year-old appeared in Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday (May 24) – where he was sentenced to pay compensation of £1,900.

Bellerby was also handed a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months for the first theft on February 5, and a further five months suspended for 18 months for the subsequent diesel thefts.

He was also ordered to have treatment for drug dependency for 12 months, while also complying with a rehabilitation programme.

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