Ebay soldier is spared prison

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AN EX-SOLDIER from Ilkeston who sold stolen military equipment including night vision goggles on Ebay has been spared jail.

Thomas Biddlestone, 26, appeared at Derby Crown Court on Monday for sentencing after admitting three offences of handling stolen goods and 10 counts of money laundering last month.

Biddlestone, a soldier for eight years before leaving the army in March, was arrested earlier this year after a Ministry of Defence investigation found that he had sold items including laptops, a satellite navigation system and night vision goggles on the online auction site Ebay and at a cash converters store.

The Crown Prosecution Service told the court that the total amount of equipment sold on by Biddlestone, amounted to more than £58,000.

The items were stolen by a former colleague from the Combermere Barracks, in Windsor, between February 1 and 28 this year.

The laptops, used by soldiers on the front line, were worth around £17,000 each but were sold for between £180 and £300 each.

Biddlestone, of Gordon Street, used his brother’s account to sell the equipment and the money was split half and half between Biddlestone and his former colleague.

In mitigation, Roger Wilson, defending Biddlestone, said that none of the laptops contained sensitive military information when they were sold on.

Recorder Sarah Wright, told Biddlestone that he had been spared jail thanks to good character references, including one from his former Major.

Sentencing him, she said: “You were selling these goods really quite cheaply despite their very high value.

“These are very, very serious offences and my initial reaction was that there was nothing to be done to avoid you going into custody but I have since had the opportunity to read a large number of references and they tell me that you are a very hardworking young man with great personal commitments.

“A reference from Major Davies tells me of operations that you have been involved in, that they were hard and demanding and included Iraq and Afghanistan.

“You breached the trust put in you by the army by behaving in this way.”

He was handed a 12 month sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also given a curfew, preventing him from leaving the house between 10pm and 7am, as well as being ordered to pay £852 in costs and carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.