A petrol can conman who targeted Good Samaritan motorists on the M4 has been jailed for two years.

Paul James, 44, had only just been released from prison for similar scam when retuned to cheating people out of their cash with his hard luck story.

A judge imposed the jail term after hearing that James had been operating the same confidence trick for almost a decade.

James made thousands of pounds when he preyed on people on the motorway between junction 15 at Swindon and junction 19 for Bristol.

The sophisticated fraud started when the 'stranded motorist' was seen walking along a slip road carrying a petrol can.

When a driver stops to help he would spin a sob story about running out of fuel and his credit card not working.

In most of the offences the court was told he got a lift to the Leigh Delamere services using the time to chat up the driver.

During the ride he appeared to take a call from the Highways Agency and told the victims he was being charged £800 for the recovery of his vehicle.

James then 'borrowed' some money towards the costs of getting his car released as well as petrol with the promise of paying it back, but the phone number given is dead.

Pushpanjabi Gohil, prosecuting, said: "He is standing there with a petrol can and tells them he has run out of petrol, his credit card is not working, he is desperate.

"He then has some sophistication, he arranges for telephone calls to his phone. He provides his details, so say, to the victim of the fraud and produces credit card for ID."

Miss Gohil said he took a total of £2,355 from his 16 victims over a period of about a year.

James, of Taunton, Somerset, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and asked for 13 more to be taken into consideration.

Miss Gohil said the three charges took place in January and February this year with the other matters stretching back as far as March last year.

She said that he was released from prison in December having been jailed by magistrates for the same type of offending.