Cameron Leigh James leaves court after admitting to three fuel drive-off offences committed during a marathon trip from Townsville to Ipswich.
Cameron Leigh James leaves court after admitting to three fuel drive-off offences committed during a marathon trip from Townsville to Ipswich.

Townsville to Ipswich for $0: Freebie lands dad in hot water

A DAD without a cent to his name drove more than 1400km from Townsville to Ipswich without paying for fuel, after hearing his son was in trouble.

The blatant fuel drive-off offences landed Cameron Leigh James a big fine when he went before Ipswich Magistrates Court for sentence.

James, 43, from Leichhardt, pleaded guilty to three charges of stealing fuel on January 26 and 27; and driving when positive to methamphetamine at Silkstone on March 3.

The court heard James's third fuel theft was committed at Maryborough on the Bruce Highway, and was apparently enough to complete the final 300km of his journey.

Prosecutor Sergeant Brad Dick said the petrol stealing offences began on Australia Day at Townsville when he stole $95 worth from a BP truck stop.

Sgt Dick said James walked into the store and used his bankcard but the transaction was declined due to insufficient funds.

James told the attendant he was unable to pay, provided his driver's licence to be copied, then drove off in a white Ford ute.

At 7.20pm on January 26 he pumped $86.05 worth of petrol into the same ute.

His bankcard was again declined and James told the attendant he would be back the next day to pay.

At 11am the next day James drove into Maryborough Caltex and pumped petrol worth $83.94 into the ute.

Sgt Dick said he made no attempt to pay on the third occasion and simply drove off.

James was arrested at Silkstone on March 3, after being intercepted by police at 2pm.

James told police he knew the matters would catch up with him sooner or later.

"He said he was homeless and planned to pay when he got back on his feet," Sgt Dick said.

Sgt Dick said a breath test of James was positive to methamphetamine.

Defence lawyer Alexis Oxley said James was prompted to make the long journey after receiving a call for help from his son in Ipswich.

"He drove knowing he did not have the funds to pay," Ms Oxley said.

"He instructs he is doing charity work at an op shop, and has a long standing history with drug use. He is not using currently."

Magistrate Andy Cridland asked if a jail order might be appropriate in the circumstances.

"So he set out to drive from Townsville to Ipswich fully aware he had no money to pay for his fuel. A two-day trip to drive, it is very deliberate offending," Mr Cridland said.

"He instructs the reason for urgency was his son had been assaulted and that is what has pre-empted him to drive knowing he did not have the funds," Ms Oxley said.

Mr Cridland said an arrest warrant had been issued by the court, which had been cancelled.

"I note you have little history for dishonesty. Your offending is mainly drug related," Mr Cridland said.

He convicted and fined James $1500 for the petrol thefts, and ordered him to pay full restitution.

James was fined $350 for the drug driving offence and disqualified from driving for one month.