Published Tuesday, 25 February 2014
The court heard both men smelt heavily of fuel when arrested. (© UTV)
Martin Murphy and John Rafferty gave the bogus reason immediately after being arrested late at night in fields in Newtownabbey.
Details emerged as Rafferty was jailed for six months and Murphy ordered to serve 12 months on probation.
The pair, both aged 41, were detained in separate cars stopped near the AT&T premises on Roughfort Road, Mallusk on 6 August last year.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard both men smelt heavily of fuel.
Nine fuel drums were located at perimeter fencing of the property targeted.
The defendants initially denied trying to steal anything from the premises, a prosecution lawyer said.
She added: "They claimed to have met in a field for sexual activity and ran when they thought the farmer was approaching."
Murphy, of Green End, and Rafferty, from Tynan Drive - both in Newtownabbey - eventually pleaded guilty to attempted theft of diesel.
Defence lawyer Seamus Leonard, for Murphy, stressed that nothing was actually stolen.
Rafferty's solicitor advocate, Conor Houston, accepted that his client was in breach of a previous suspended sentence imposed for stealing a boat.
"The type of behaviour he engaged in is very rash and very foolish," Mr Houston acknowledged. "There's obviously an underlying issue here."
District Judge Nigel Broderick ruled that Rafferty's actions warranted being sent to jail.
Imposing a three-month sentence for the attempted theft, the judge added a further three months by partial activation of the previous suspended term.
However, he gave Murphy credit for the gap in his record of offending and instead ordered him to complete a year on probation.
© UTV News