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Man caught stealing from company in Ebay sting

A man who stole from his employer in an attempt to pay back a £50,000 debt was caught after the business set up a sting operation.

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Adrian Hale, 46, from Great Charles Street, Walsall, worked as a picker with Brownhills company L&S Engineers, which bills itself as the UK's 'leading supplier of spare parts to the construction and plant hire industries' between July and November last year.

During this time, he stole 134 items with a combined market value of £7,834, which he then put on Ebay with his brother Richard Hale and sold through an account named Hale2850, which has since been deleted.

Walsall Magistrates Court heard that Hale, who pleaded guilty to one count of theft by employee, was trying to recoup cash towards debts he had accrued through what he believed to be a 'no win, no fee' court dispute with a previous company he worked for relating to an injury, which left him with 'huge medical and legal bills', to pay.

In total, he made £1,500 from the operation before being caught out.

After a stock check was taken and bosses at L&S Engineers looked on Ebay to see if there were any parts similar to what they had lost up for sale, which lead them to the account set up by Hale and his brother, who pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods.

They then marked up similar items in their warehouse, waited for them to be listed on Ebay and brought them back.

Prosecuting, Tim Talbot-Webb, said: "The defendant admitted straight away to police what he had done.

"He told them that he had been a prat and would tell them all about it.

"He followed through on that and made a full and frank admission straight away.

"He was caught out via a sting operation in what was not a very sophisticated operation."

Mr Andrew Chowdhury, defending, said: "He feels genuine remorse and embarrasment about what he has done.

"The fact is he was in a lot of debt, and still is, thanks to what he believed was a no win no fee injury claim he made against a former employer, which has now cost him around £50,000 in medical and legal fees.

"This has brought a lot of stress on to him and he is in poor health at the moment, having suffered two strokes since he was first arrested."

Chief magistrate Neil Ravenscroft ordered that Hale pay back £3,917 and a victim surcharge of £50, as well as issuing a six week curfew from the hours of 7pm to 7am.

The court heard that Hale's brother Richard, 38, from Bassett Road, Wednesbury, 'didn't know' that the items were stolen and put them up on Ebay to help his brother, only taking his expenses from the sales.

He was given a 12 month community order involving 100 hours of unpaid work, as well as being told to pay £3,917, an £85 victim surcharge and £185 court costs.