A CARPET fitter who fleeced his firm out of almost £8,000 has been spared jail after a judge heard how the company has given him a job back.

Geoffrey Hobson, 60, was ordered to pay the money back to his employers.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Peter Fox, QC, told Hobson: "I regard this as a matter which is quite out of character for you."

A court heard yesterday that Hobson was employed as a contractor for a Staffordshire company, Inside Right Ltd, and looked after stock at a warehouse on Teesside.

Richard Parsell, prosecuting, said Hobson used carpets and underlay from the warehouse to fit newly-built houses across the region, and charged the company solely for his labour.

But he was also working on the side for a rival firm, and used materials from the warehouse in Stockton.

When an anonymous letter was sent to the company's regional manager, Hobson was confronted about his moonlighting and he admitted taking £7,910 of underlay.

In mitigation, Chris Baker said Hobson, of Blakestone Court, Stockton, had saved up to repay Inside Right since his crimes came to light at the end of last year.

Hobson, who admitted theft, was given a conditional discharge by Judge Fox.