Tool-theft director escapes jail

A FORMER company director was spared jail after a judge heard how he stole almost £40,000 worth of tools from his employer – to benefit the firm.Judge John Sennitt said he was showing mercy to Martin Ryan because the case was so unusual – the businessman had not committed the offences to line his own pocket or out of malice.

A FORMER company director was spared jail after a judge heard how he stole almost £40,000 worth of tools from his employer – to benefit the firm.

Judge John Sennitt said he was showing mercy to Martin Ryan because the case was so unusual – the businessman had not committed the offences to line his own pocket or out of malice.

The 45-year-old father-of-three, who sobbed as his crimes were outlined to the court, pleaded guilty to four counts of theft involving tools worth a total of £39,800.

Judge Sennitt gave Ryan a 240-hour community service order and ordered him to pay compensation of £5,042 and costs of £461.

He said: "It is a very unusual set of facts I have had explained to me. I can take an exceptional course of action and am not going to impose a custodial sentence."

Bury St Edmunds crown court heard how Ryan, of Bury Road, Beyton, had worked for Jack Sealey Limited as export manager and then director from 1994 to 2001.

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Steven Dyble, prosecuting, said after Ryan left the Bury-based firm his work was reviewed and irregularities came to light.

He had set up a company and used a false name to export tools to two of Jack Sealey's customers, JJ Autoline in Czechoslovakia and Sealey Cyprus, whose accounts had been closed due to mounting debts of around £70,000 between them.

Mr Dyble admitted much of the value of the stolen tools had been repaid to Jack Sealey's before police became involved, but estimated around £5,000 was still outstanding.

"The defendant was making significant payments to Jack Sealey both in order to reduce the debts but also in relation to the shipments he had arranged, albeit against the wishes of the management of Jack Sealey.

"The motivation for doing that was to reduce the debt of these companies to Jack Sealey and to allow them to trade out of their difficulties and continue to be customers of that company. JJ Autoline ultimately ceased trading but Sealey Cyprus' debts were totally repaid and at the time he left they were still customers of Jack Sealey."

In defence, the court heard it had "come as something of a shock" to Ryan that his actions amounted to theft in the eyes of the law because he had gone against the wishes of his employers.

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