A WAREHOUSE worker who stole nearly £10,000 of high-end smartwatches from his Winsford employer has avoided jail.

Matthew Lambert worked at Thorn Distribution on Winsford Industrial Estate for two and a half years as a production operative, but was on a final warning when he got busted.

Managers at the company started to suspect they had a thief after another member of staff couldn’t fulfil an order when their computer suggested they could.

After completing a stock check, managers then decided to search staff lockers.

When Lambert got wind of this, he was forced to take action, and was captured stashing something inside a bin on the company’s CCTV.    

During his police interview, the 23-year-old admitted stealing 30 high-end Withings smartwatches from the warehouse in October and November 2023, and was charged with one count of theft from an employer. 

Lambert pleaded guilty at a hearing on January 2, and was bailed to return to Chester Crown Court for sentencing on Tuesday, January 30.

Prosecuting, Peter Hussey said Lambert had not been truthful with the Probation Service – he hadn’t told them he was already on a final warning when he was sacked for stealing.

Mr Hussey said the watches he’d stolen were worth £9,598.50, and while 24 had been recovered, six had not. These were worth £2,199.70. 

Defending, Adam Antoskzi said his client has no previous convictions and has managed to secure agency work since losing his job with Thorn Distribution. 

He's paid between £250 and £350 a week, Mr Antoskzi added, meaning he’s able to pay compensation to his former employer at £150 every month.

Passing sentence, the recorder, Ciaran Rankin, said: “You certainly haven’t covered yourself in glory, young man.

“It seems the wheels finally came off your little operation after you were caught on CCTV hiding something in a bin.

“Your case does cross the threshold for immediate custody, and if you’d gone to trial, you’d be looking at 18 months.

"As it stands, I’m able to suspend it.”

Lambert, of Hassam Avenue, Newcastle-under-Lyme, was handed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

He must also do 120 hours unpaid work, 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days, and pay £450 prosecution costs and a £187 victim surcharge.

He was also ordered to repay £2,199.70 to his former employer to cover the six missing watches.