A MAN has been given a suspended prison sentence for stealing diesel from his employer.

Ian Benn was working at Certas Energy in Ulverston when he swiped ten barrels of raw diesel to the value of £315.09 in June 2019.

He was given an ultimatum of being instantly dismissed or face prosecution, South Cumbria Magistrates Court heard.

Months later, the 51-year-old returned and stole twenty barrels of raw diesel to the value of £641.97.

He also had 20 empty fuel storage barrels.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of theft and going equipped for theft.

Prosecution solicitor Diane Jackson said Benn, of Duddon Road, Askam, was caught out on the first occasion after being filmed by members of the public.

“After members of the public had seen Benn stealing the product and taken photos, his manager waited for the defendant to return from his time off to confront him about this," she said.

“He denied the accusation at first but when the photos were shown to him he said: ‘I cannot deny that’.

“Mr Benn was then given the choice of prosecution or instant dismissal.

“He then left Certas Energy.

“There is medium culpability here and a breach of trust in the case of the first theft.

"He was given a chance and then went on to do it again anyway.”

Defence solicitor Maureen Fawcett said: “My client had given full admission to this at the police station.

“He admits that he has been so stupid and it has been like a midlife crisis for him since unemployment.”

After the defendant had consulted with the probation officer, magistrates were advised that due to his new employment as a long-distance lorry driver, a curfew would not be appropriate.

Magistrates handed Benn, of Duddon Road, Askam, a 16 week prison sentence - eight weeks for each theft.

But it was suspended for 24 months.

He was also ordered by the magistrates to pay compensation for the stolen fuel, plus court costs which came to a total of £1164.06.