Van driver stole £28,000 in clothes

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Court story
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A THIEVING van driver was caught after clothes he should have delivered to a shop were seen on eBay.

Stephen Kell stole goods valued at £27,896 during a period of 13 months, Durham Crown Court heard.

“He worked for LRH Distribution in Birtley delivering on behalf of All Saints Retail,” said Sean Dryden, prosecuting.

“The deliveries of clothes were to the company’s outlets in Newcastle, including one in Fenwick.

“The clothes were in boxes of four or five items.

“Mr Kell would remove one item before delivering the box.

“Suspicions were raised when a member of staff saw a current range jacket on eBay, which he knew should not be there.”

The court heard security staff confronted Kell when he returned to the depot at the end of shift.

“He had two jackets valued at £358 each in his personal holdall,” said Mr Dryden.

“Police were called and Kell told them he had been taking one or two items a week for a year or so.

“He said he would sell the jackets for about £50.”

Kell, 57, of Windsor Terrace, Murton, admitted theft between February, 2012, and March of this year.

He was of previous good character.

Martin Scarborough, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Kell began stealing after getting into financial difficulties. As is so often the case, once he started, he found it hard to stop.

“In other respects, he is a decent man.

“Several prominent members of his community have written references for him.”

The Recorder, Mr Euan Duff, sentenced Kell to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, a 12-month supervision order, and 150 hours of community work.

“It is always a tragedy to see a man such as yourself in the dock of a court,” said the recorder.

“The fact you have led a decent life for all but the last year of your 57 years enables me to suspend the inevitable prison sentence.

“It is not realistic to make a compensation order, but your former employers have a very strong case for civil action.”

Kell was ordered to pay £450 costs.