A learner driver who could not afford to pay for petrol to visit her injured mother has been ordered to pay a supermarket chain £280.50 after filling up and not paying.
Emma Lancaster, 23, of Swaffham Road, Narborough admitted four charges of filling up her Ford Mondeo at Morrisons supermarkets in Norfolk, Northamptonshire and Cornwall over a two week period in the summer.
Giles Beaumont told Lynn Magistrates on Wednesday that Lancaster filled up at the Cromer store on June 28, in Kettering on July 11, two days later in Bodmin and again in Dereham on July 15.
The court heard that the matter came to light on the last occasion when Lancaster’s card was declined and a member of staff looked on the system to find three other failed payments.
Lancaster also admitted driving without insurance and a test certificate.
In mitigation, Ruth Johnson said this matter had not started off as a dishonest act. She said that Lancaster had filled up on the first occasion without realising that she had insufficient funds in her account and was issued with a default notice after her card was refused.
Miss Johnson told the court that Lancaster believed the debt would be referred to a recovery agency for a repayment plan to be set up and was not aware that the police were going to be involved until the last incident.
The bench heard that Lancaster normally travels at least 200 miles a week to take her children to school and to do the family shopping but had to travel to Cornwall in July after learning her mother had been in a severe car crash.
Miss Johnson said that Lancaster always drives with an appropriate person in the car and is due to take her test on December 12.
She addied: “This is not a lady who filled up her car to go on a jolly. She is a young lady whose struggling on her means.”
Lancaster was ordered to pay £280.50 compensation to the supermarket and her licence was endorsed with six penalty points.