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Dad stole fuel 'just to see his children'

A plumber who repeatedly drove away without paying after he filled up his SUV with diesel has claimed that he had no money and he was trying to get to see his two children who live outside Dublin.

James McLoughlin (36) apologised for his behaviour, saying he split from his wife and he started drinking heavily.

A judge ordered McLoughlin to do community service in lieu of spending four months in prison.

The defendant, with an address at Hazel Grove Portrane Road, Donabate and Woodbine Road, Raheny, admitted before Swords District Court to four counts of theft.

The incidents all took place at the Topaz Service Station Old Belfast Road, Swords on August 26, August 31, September 4 and September 13 last year.

On each occasion, McLoughlin filled up his vehicle with diesel, and made off without paying.

He had €220 compensation in court.

He also admitted to a breach of the peace and failing to give gardai his name on June 19, 2009.

Sergeant Paul Madden said gardai were on mobile patrol at 3.30am when they came across McLoughlin on Main Street, Donabate.

He was verbally abusive to gardai, refused to give his name and address, and continued to abuse gardai as he was brought to the station.

Defence solicitor John Hennessy said McLoughlin's marriage ended acrimoniously. This caused him to "lose focus", he suffered from depression and started drinking heavily.

Mr Hennessy said McLoughlin is an unemployed plumber, and he stole the diesel as he had no money and he wanted to go and see his children, who live outside Dublin.

The defendant is now attending a counsellor, who is helping him deal with his problems.

Judge Patrick Brady fined McLoughlin €1,000 and ordered him to complete 100 hours community service in lieu of four months in prison.