An Army hero from Hartlepool who was discharged injured after a firefight in Afghanistan was spared jail yesterday for thefts he committed in his first job back in Civvy Street.
Nicholas Jenkins, 30, broke both his legs dodging Taliban bullets when his team came under fire, and he left with battlefield medals.
A judge at Teesside Crown Court told him that he could call upon his service to his country to save him from a prison sentence for stealing from his new bosses.
Jenkins, who was of previous good character, pleaded guilty to stealing fuel and goods worth £3,000 from Keyline Builders between May and July last year.
Prosecutor Jenny Haigh said that Jenkins was a delivery driver for the firm and last September it was quite clear that there were some inconsistencies.
Goods delivered by him did not match customers invoices, and after an investigation the company believed that fuel had also gone missing.
Jenkins was suspended and a number of fraudulent transactions were caught on CCTV and he made admissions.
Andrew Teate, defending, said that Jenkins disputed the firm's claimed losses of £4,016 and he admitted a figure of £3,000.
He said it was clear that other individuals were involved stealing fuel on the company card.
Mr Teate said that Jenkins spent 10 years serving on the front line with the Army, and it was a sad day when he was discharged after breaking his legs during a battle.
He added: "His life fell apart.
"His marriage led to divorce, and he sought access to his children through the court. But his estranged partner moved away adding to his difficulties. His experiences on the battlefields let him make some wrong decisions in his life."
Two days after being dismissed for theft, Jenkins got another job, after telling his new employers about the case.
Judge Peter Armstrong told him: "You are of positive good character for your time in the Army and you are entitled to pray in aid the service you gave to your country and the injuries you suffered on the battlefield.
"I sentence you on the basis that you stole fuel from the company by taking fuel for yourself and allowing others to do so with the card that you had.
"You were caught on CCTV and you did not prevaricate when you were caught, and you pleaded guilty at the first opportunity in the magistrates court."
Jenkins, of Kilmory Walk, Hartlepool, was sentenced to a 12-month community order, 200-hours unpaid work, and ordered to repay £2,700 at a rate of £75 a month.