Found out on e-bay

PUBLISHED: 11:18 15 March 2007 | UPDATED: 12:18 04 May 2010

FACTORY worker Jonathan Hobbs stole 40 bottles of Nicogel cigarette replacement gel when he worked for the company in Littleport, and then advertised them on the e-bay internet sales site. But the owner of Nicogel, biochemist John Walters, discovered that

FACTORY worker Jonathan Hobbs stole 40 bottles of Nicogel cigarette replacement gel when he worked for the company in Littleport, and then advertised them on the e-bay internet sales site.

But the owner of Nicogel, biochemist John Walters, discovered that Hobbs was selling the gel at half the retail price, and alerted the police.

At Ely courthouse on Wednesday, 18-year-old Hobbs, of Croft Park Road, Littleport, admitted stealing 40 bottles of the gel, worth £140, on or about December 1 last year.

"This was theft by an employee, he was employed by a local employment agency to work at Nicogel for about three weeks in November and December last year," said prosecutor Yetunde Fawehinmi.

Mr Walters' company manufactured the cigarette replacement gel at the Saxon Business Park in Littleport, she said. He discovered his product for sale on e-bay priced £5, when they normally retail at £9.99.

Inquiries showed that Johnny Hobbs of Littleport was the vendor, and Mr Walters suspected that the product had been stolen from his factory.

When arrested, Hobbs, admitted theft, saying: "They had so many bottles, they would not miss a few." He had not planned the theft, it was opportunistic, and he regretted his actions.

"He realises this has scuppered his future with the agency," said solicitor Jacqui Baldwin. "He has been extremely tearful and remorseful."

Hobbs was ordered to carry out 60 hours of unpaid community work and pay £140 compensation and £50 costs.

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