Pilfering cost aircraft engineer his career

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AN aircraft engineer lost his career at an RAF station after he was found to have been stealing military equipment to sell on the internet auction site eBay.

Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday when a search was made at Peter Smith’s then address in Haxby, York, in February last year a “large amount” of equipment was recovered including batteries and ration packs.

Duncan Ritchie, prosecuting, said an examination of the auction site traffic showed he had sold similar items in the past.

Officers also found £215 worth of aviation fuel stolen by Smith stored in a shed outside, which could apparently be used in cars. He had been given a warning about taking it in 2009.

At the time Smith had been employed by a company maintaining aircraft at RAF Linton-on- Ouse which gave him access to the items. He was summarily dismissed by his employers following his arrest.

Mr Ritchie said the search also revealed some .22 bulleted cartridges and 180 dummy or blank firing cartridges which he had acquired through his other occupation as a trainer in the North and West Yorkshire Army cadet corps.

Nicholas Barker, for Smith, told the court that as lieutenant in the corps he ran firing range sessions and the cartridges were left over. He should have returned them straight away to the munition store but had taken them home intending to take them back to use at another session and had no sinister motive,

He resorted to the thefts and sales on eBay after his marriage broke down and he was left financially stretched paying alone for the house.

Smith, 34 now of Long Meadow, Warthill, York, admitted three charges of theft and possessing ammunition without a certificate and was given 26 weeks in jail suspended for 12 months, 200 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs.

Judge Christopher Batty told him he had gained little and lost a great deal by his “pilfering”.