Employee who stole meat avoids prison

A LIGHT-fingered worker accused of stealing £5,000 worth of meat from an Alfreton business has been spared jail.

James Hunt was dismissedwhen bosses at Owen Taylor and Sons Butchers found he had been thieving over a three-month period.

Magistrates at Chesterfield heard that he was employed as a picker, dealing with orders from caterers and hotels.

But Hunt, 35, was regularly helping himself to meat products, some of which he offered for sale at a local snooker club.

Becky Mahon, prosecuting, said his sales manager was tipped off about the scam and CCTV film in the pickers’ section was studied.

He was seen filling up a rucksack with products and putting it in his locker, and then transferring the bag into his car during his break.

“On August 4 he was challenged in the canteen area and £250 to £300 worth of products were found in his rucksack.

“The general manager estimates that £5,000 worth was taken over the admitted three-month period,” said Ms Mahon, adding that the amount of stolen meat could not be accurately quantified.

Hunt, of Ferrers Way, Ripley, was arrested and sacked. He told police he stole meat to feed his family and make money as he was strapped for cash.

He admitted theft between May 3 and August 5. He had no previous convictions but the justices haD warned he could be locked up for a “systematic” spell of stealing.

However, after studying a Probation Service report, they ordered him to do 240 hours unpaid work, with £85 costs.

“He took two or three packs at a time in his rucksack. He gave some to family and sold others to friends because he was struggling with debts as a result of a marriage break-up more than two years ago.

“He had been at the butchers a year. He has mainly worked as a self-employed plasterer and he hopes to resume that employment,” said probation officer Jerry Starnes.

Matt Evans, for Hunt, said: “He can’t say how much it was but he doesn’t accept taking £5,000 worth.”