A TRUSTED driver stole more than £1,000 from his employer and then reported the crime to police by claiming he was the victim.
Martin Brown, 41, who worked as a driver for a hot tub hire business, claimed someone had climbed into his van and stolen £1,158.
But a probe by scenes of crime officers proved Brown had lied and had pocketed the cash himself.
Tahira Bouchier, prosecuting, said: “The defendant initially told police he believed someone had climbed through his van window and taken various monies to the value of £1,158.
“Police attended and scenes of crime officers confirmed following their investigation nothing to suggest other persons had been involved at all and certainly, nobody had gained entry to the van window.”
At first, Brown denied knowing how the money disappeared.
He maintained his innocence even after police uncovered CCTV of him with £500 cash in a betting shop.
Brown, of previous good character, later admitted theft on September 1 when the case got to court.
In a statement, boss Martin Bloomfield, of Easy Hot Tub Hire, in Peterlee, said: “I’m devastated. Martin has betrayed us.
“Not only have I lost a trusted employee, I’ve lost a good and trusted friend.”
Ian Hudson, mitigating, said: “This is a gentleman who fell into a vast amount debt with a family of four.
“That was the catalyst for the problem.He thought it was an easy way out.It’s his first-ever offence and he’s deeply ashamed.”
Mr Hudson added Brown, now unemployed, did not spend the money on extravagant holidays but everyday things for the home.
Brown, of Tees Close, Peterlee, was spared jail and given a 12 month community order with 100 hours unpaid work.
Magistrates also ordered him to pay back all the money at £50 a month and £85 court costs.