Truck worker stole to get more staff

Leyland Trucks
Leyland Trucks

A Leyland Trucks factory supervisor has narrowly avoided jail after admitting stealing vehicle parts to slow down production so he could persuade bosses to hire more staff to help him hit targets.

Production line supervisor Lee Burgess’ excuse for the theft of truck valves from the firm was branded “pretty extraordinary” at Preston Crown Court.

Judge Christopher Cornwall told him: “You said you were deliberately taking them to interrupt production in the belief that if production was interrupted you would be provided with more staff and would be therefore in a better position to meet the targets and deadlines to be met.

“It seems a pretty extraordinary way of going about achieving that end.”

Burgess, 44, of Southdowns Road, Chorley, had worked for the company for 23 years and was employed as a supervisor on a production line at the time of the offences.

He was charged by police after bosses at the company launched a probe when truck valves went missing last year.

Prosecuting, Mark Stephenson said: “Concerns were raised by managers that parts may be going missing. A camera was set up.

“On May 8, 2011, he was filmed putting five valves into his motor vehicle.”

The court heard the parts – which if sold on would have retailed for around £5,000 – were never found.

A Proceeds of Crime investigation has been launched into his affairs.

Judge Christopher Cornwall, who accepted there had been a breach of trust, said: “You admitted in your pre-sentence report that it was not the first time you had done it.

“You say the valves you had taken were transferred to other parts of the plant.

“What is known is the five valves were not recovered and you say there was no intention to sell them on. It was an intention to destroy them.

“Someone in the supervisory function you had is supposed to be a good example to others on the assembly line.”

The married man, who has no previous convictions, was sentenced to eight weeks in prison suspended for 18 months and must complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

Defending, Benjamin Lawrence said Burgess had to support his wife, his mother and his father-in-law.

Leyland Motors declined to comment.