Soldiers who 'stole kit and sold it on eBay' sentenced

Three serving soldiers stole uniform and body armour from army stores and sold it on eBay, a court has heard.

Phillip Wesley, 25, from Birmingham, Nick Chauntry, 23, and Courtney Green-Smith, 23, from Nottingham, stole the items while serving with the 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment.

They were helped by Green-Smith's 53-year-old mother Beverley Smith.

All four were given suspended sentences at Nottingham Crown Court after admitting money laundering.

Recorder William Harbage QC said the group had "betrayed the army" in their "money making escapade".

The court heard Green-Smith had been the "key player" in the thefts and had taken items while stationed at barracks in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Chauntry also helped himself to items and they brought them back to England to be sold online.

'Del Boy and Rodney'

Prosecuting, Adrian Harris said helmets, shirts, camouflage trousers, bags, boots and Osprey body armour were taken over a period of three months in 2011, worth a total of £14,000.

Mr Harris said texts between the group boasted about the amount of kit stolen and of Chauntry and Green-Smith being "the new Del Boy and Rodney".

He said while Green-Smith had accepted taking the items, he claimed stores had been unlocked and he had been allowed to take them.

All three soldiers had joined the army on leaving school and served two tours of Afghanistan. Smith was also a former member of the armed forces.

Barristers defending the group said they were all "deeply ashamed" of their involvement.

Green-Smith, of Chetwin Road, Bilborough, was sentenced to eight months, suspended for 12 months, and 250 hours unpaid work.

Chauntry, of High Main Drive, Bestwood, Smith, of Chetwin Road, Bilborough, and Wesley, received four months, suspended for 12 months with an added 200 hours of unpaid work for Wesley.

Recorder Harbage said: "This is an appalling offence. It is clear from the text messages you all knew what you were doing was wrong but you did it for greed and for profit.

"Most people in the UK are rightly proud of our armed forces but you four, for your own selfish reasons, sought to profit from your connection.

"This was a gross breach of trust, It was a betrayal of the army and a betrayal of your colleagues."

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