Site supervisor allowed £20,000 worth of cement to be stolen from plant in return for a back hander (From The Northern Echo)
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Spennymoor man escapes jail due to his work as firefighter and paramedic
A SITE supervisor at a cement plant stole 400 cubic metres of the building material because it was "easy money and times were hard", a court heard.
Alan Wheatley allowed a customer to take away a mixer full for free for a back-hander on almost 100 occasions - leaving his firm with a loss of nearly £20,000.
The 33-year-old told police after his arrest that he simply allowed the vehicle on-site and let the builders load it without paying his company a penny for it.
He dodged jail after Teesside Crown Court heard he was now working as a firefighter and paramedic for a private company, and a volunteer fireman in his community.
Judge Howard Crowson told Wheatley, from Spennymoor, County Durham, that the way he had turned around his life in the last two years saved him.
He said the community would lose an asset in a retained firefighter - going into schools and homes to talk about safety as well as being on call to tackle blazes.
The court heard how Wheatley worked at the Lafarge plant in Portrack, Stockton, and became a suspect when checks showed discrepancies in March 2011.
When he was arrested, he said he used the money to pay for holidays and repayments on his car, and admitted he had got greedy after seeing how easy it was.
Andrew White, mitigating, said Wheatley's admission to theft saved "an awful lot of work" because "it would have been a long and complicated case to unravel".
He added: "He is deeply ashamed and remorseful about this. He wishes to apologise to all concerned. Clearly, custody would have a devastating effect.
"In the two years since, there have been no offences. Quite the contrary. He has turned his life around. This is a person who contributes to the community."
Wheatley, of Tudhoe Lane, Spennymoor, was given a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, with supervision and 210 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Crowson also ordered him to pay back £7,000 of the loss incurred by the company - about as much as Wheatley made - at a rate of £200 a month.