A DRIVER who “got greedy”and stole thousands of pounds worth of tools from the engineering firm he worked at had been reduced to living in a caravan after his crimes were exposed, a court heard.
Colin Benton stole £97,000 worth of press tools from Permoid Industries, based on the Newton Aycliffe Business Park, along with £1,115 of scrap metal.
The 55-year-old, whose job it was to deliver scrap, was said to be “skimming” items so that they could be weighed as scrap and sold on illegitimately.
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Bosses at the firm became suspicious when a hydraulic pump, said to weigh in excess of five tonnes, disappeared from the Aycliffe site.
CCTV cameras later captured Benton moving items off the site, said Jenny Haig, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court.
The defendant admitted five charges of theft from June and August last year. Ms Haig said that while the press tools had been recovered and returned to the firm, the smaller amount of scrap metal had not.
Carl Swift, for Benton, who was of previous good character, said: “An opportunity presented itself to him to make a bit of money and he got greedy.”
Benton, who sat head bowed in the dock during the course of the hearing, was now living in a caravan after losing his job and had no income and few prospects of employment, said Mr Swift.
“It has had a devastating impact,” he said.
The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said Benton, formerly of Auckland Street, Guisborough, east Cleveland, only had himself to blame for his situation.
He chose not to immediately jail the defendant, instead handing him a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
The judge told him he would be jailed if he was returned back to court having committed further offences in that period.
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