Five years' jail for Mars bar thief

Kate Watson-Smyth
Saturday 21 November 1998 00:02

A FORMER warehouse manager who stole pounds 500,000 of Mars bars and chocolate from his employers will be getting rather more work, rest and play than he bargained for.

Martin Keys, who was convicted of conspiring to steal eight lorry loads of confectionery, was sentenced yesterday to five years in jail.

Gloucester Crown Court was told that the former shift supervisor arranged for 300 tonnes of chocolate to be spirited out of the Tibbett and Britten warehouse in Bicester, Oxfordshire, and sold on.

He is thought to have made about pounds 156,000 profit, which he used to pay for a Cotswold cottage, a black Saab convertible and "a flash lifestyle" that included a Caribbean holiday with his girlfriend.

Passing sentence, Judge John Neligan said: "It is clear to me that you were overcome by greed and a desire to be the centre of attention."

Simon Brand, for the prosecution, had told the court that Keys paid for his car with pounds 21,211 in cash produced from a Tesco carrier bag. "This was not a case where someone slipped a Mars bar into their pocket that didn't belong to them. What was going on here was that lorry loads of it at a time were being stolen, pantechnicons of it stacked high with chocolate," he said.

Mr Keys, who earned about pounds 25,000 a year, suddenly came into large sums of money. "You may think Mr Keys was a one-man international football team with the amounts of cash that were going through his hands," Mr Brand said.

Keys, 32, was also ordered to pay pounds 134,990 compensation to his former employers. The money will come from the sale of the items he bought with his ill gotten gains. His girlfriend, Emma Smiley, 25, from Bicester, was cleared of two charges of laundering stolen money.

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