A former member of the armed forces was told he had narrowly avoided prison after helping mastermind a scheme which saw over £22,000 worth of goods fraudulently obtained from the Ministry of Defence.
Steven Stewart (35), of Elliot Street in Dunfermline, was ordered to carry out 180 hours of community service when he appeared at Arbroath Sheriff Court for sentencing after admitting the offences in March.
At the town’s RM Condor base and other locations unknown to the procurator fiscal, a “contact” had supplied Stewart with 2043 specialist ration packs valued at £11 each between February 1, 2007 and May 1, 2008.
The accused, who left the forces in 2007, had used the materials as part of his role running courses for Surrey-based Trueways Survival School.
Sheriff Derek Pyle said that, while Stewart made no personal financial gain, it had been advantageous to him in that it had increased his standing with his new employers.
Stewart’s solicitor, Paul Kavanagh, told the court his client would most likely find himself unemployed as a result of his conviction.
He said that a prospective overseas job offer which could not be disclosed in open court due to its sensitivity in terms of national security now looked unlikely unless a “friend” was able to “speak up” on Stewart’s behalf.
However, Mr Kavanagh said this “might be a forlorn hope” and that Stewart also faced the possibility of his UK employment being terminated as he was on a temporary contract, which was reviewed six monthly.
Sheriff Pyle said that, as the offence had involved such a “substantial” value of goods, the only options available to him were either community service or a custodial sentence.
He added, “If he does not want to work in Britain and is not able to do community service, the consequences are obvious.”
Mr Kavanagh said Stewart was willing to take part in unpaid work and would finish any non-custodial sentence before leaving the country.
Sheriff Pyle told Stewart, “This is a very serious matter and it is only because you are a first offender that you are not going to jail.
“I have decided that the alternative is 180 hours of community service, reduced from the maximum 240 because you pled guilty at the intermediate diet.”