A man who stole nearly €400 worth of fuel on three separate dates from the same service station had been sleeping in his car after being thrown out of his family home because he was using cocaine.
Peter McCarthy (24) admitted filling his car with fuel at Applegreen Service Station on the M1 at Lusk between February 14 and March 21 last year.
His car was observed on CCTV leaving the forecourt on each occasion.
He was eventually caught after his car broke down and he parked it on the roadside with a note containing his name and phone number.
When gardai called the number about the broken-down car, the defendant admitted to the theft offences over the phone, Balbriggan District Court heard.
The defendant, of White Chapel Crescent, Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty at Balbriggan District Court to the theft of €99.99 worth of diesel from the service station on February 14 last year.
He also pleaded guilty to the theft of €100 worth of diesel from the same service station on February 23 last year and to the theft of €95.94 worth of diesel last March 11.
He had no previous convictions.
McCarthy's car, a Silver Vauxhall, was observed on CCTV driving into the forecourt.
It was then seen leaving after the defendant had filled it with fuel.
He failed to pay for the fuel on the three occasions.
His Vauxhall broke down on the Naul Road last March 21 and he left a note containing his contact details.
When gardai contacted him he then admitted the thefts.
Defence barrister Annette Kealy said the defendant "ran into trouble" at home.
"He was led astray and started using cocaine, and when his parents found out they were not happy," said Ms Kealy.
"They put him out of the home and he had been sleeping in his car then and owed money."
Ms Kealy said that since the offences, the defendant had reconciled with his family and secured employment.
"He has €300 with him in court to pay compensation for the theft" said the lawyer.
Judge Dermot Dempsey instructed that the money be paid to Applegreen and also ordered a probation report to establish if the defendant is suitable to carry out 150 hours of community service work instead of two months in prison.
The judge adjourned the case until April for finalisation.