A MAN who was starting a new job as an aerial fitter stole his company van and tools before he had even done any work.

Bolton Crown Court heard how 44-year-old Mark Byron was taken on by Scottish-based Aerial Services on June 19 last year and they provided him with a Mercedes van, tools and stock.

Andrew Mackintosh, prosecuting, told how Byron collected the van two days later and returned to Bolton.

"The company did not hear from him again," said Mr Mackintosh. "He had not attended at any of the jobs which had been allocated to him."

On July 8 last year he was sacked but the company was unable to get in touch with him to arrange for the van and contents, worth a total of £11,270.71, to be returned.

Police arrested Byron, who told them that he had been threatened by a man who had taken the van from him.

Byron, of Chorley Old Road, Bolton, pleaded guilty, to theft from an employer, on the day of his trial.

Kevin Liston, defending, said at the time of the offence Byron's life had been falling apart with his relationship ending, loss of employment and becoming involved with a bad crowd.

"He allowed himself to be influenced and made bad choices," said Mr Liston.

"He has expressed remorse and insight into how it will affect the company in question."

But he added that Byron is now clean living.

"At 44 years of age he is now attempting to piece his life together," said Mr Liston.

Judge Graeme Smith sentenced Byron to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months and ordered him to participate in 120 hours of unpaid work plus 15 days of rehabilitation activities.

"This is a unusual case because it's been impossible to discern any direct financial motivation for you," said the judge.