A COLCHESTER crook may finally be jailed after running out of chances.

Peter Learmonth spent three years leaving petrol stations without paying and admitted 18 thefts at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

But it is one theft at a shop which could lead to him soon spending time in prison.

The 28-year-old recovering drug addict already had nine convictions for 18 crimes when he was convicted of burglary for a third time last year.

Only a legal technicality and the kindness of one of his victims saved him from prison.

The victim of a burglary in West Bergholt aged in her seventies had £820 of jewellery stolen which he sold for just £40 for drugs.

However she insisted he did not pay compensation or receive punishment but help instead so he received a 21 month sentence suspended for two years and a community order.

Learmonth, of Campion Lane, Colchester, rewarded the generosity by only attending 20 out of 45 appointments with the probation service and was called back to court in March.

He was criticised for making “absolutely no effort” to obey the court order by Judge Patricia Lynch QC but she deferred sentence for a man she described as “a waste of space” but who she spared jail for the sake of his father and partner.

On Friday the court heard between 2012 and 2015 he was going to petrol stations and not paying.

On 18 occasions he went to BP Petrol Stations and gave his name but never returned to pay.

He admitted the 18 counts of theft totalling more than £1,000.

However as these were committed, against the The British Oil Security Syndicate, before he was sentenced for burglary last year the suspended sentence was not activated.

But a single shop theft admitted earlier this month could end his run of luck.

In December Learmonth will be sentenced for the 18 petrol station thefts, which mainly took place in Colchester but also covered Witham and Brentwood, at Chelmsford Crown Court.

He will also be sentenced for the shop theft.

That theft means his suspended sentence, or part of it, for the West Bergholt burglary of 21 months may finally be activated.

The judge could look at his much reduced criminal record during the past 12 months and his work to solve his drug addiction and give him another chance.