£1k gas thief ordered to pay up

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

A single Burnley mother-of-three has been found guilty of stealing gas and ordered to pay the provider £900.

Kelly Ann Smith, 36, stole in excess of £1,500 worth of gas after the court heard how her ‘drug dealer’ former boyfriend switched her meter from a pre-payment unit to a normal credit unit, which allows gas to flow constantly.

Visited twice by British Gas officials investigating the case, magistrates heard how Simpson claimed that her former partner had left her without the ability to change the meter back again.

Despite being in ‘massive debt’, Simpson, of Russell Court, will pay British Gas back on a weekly basis. Her gas supply has also subsequently been turned off.

Charged with stealing £906.87 worth of gas on June 1st, Simpson admitted to the theft and earned a 12 month conditional discharge.

Shirley Kelly, defending, said: “The defendant has not got the technical ability to change a gas meter. What’s clear is her partner had that ability. She was left with her gas meter in this state and she couldn’t put it back.

“He has got a serious drug problem. She showed him the door and the end result was that she had to obtain a restraining order against him. He has taken the money that she would have paid for the gas with and he would have spent it on drugs.”

Kelly said her client, who is on benefits, was severly in debt, after taking out a £1,700 loan on top of owing council tax and money to the water board, before adding: “To say she feels remorse would be understating it. She is genuinely very, very sorry.”