Former Newcastle University IT worker spared jail term for stealing computers from campus

Kevin Smith leaving Newcastle Magistrates' Court

A former Newcastle University worker has been spared a spell behind bars after he stole thousands of pounds worth of computer equipment from his employer.

Kevin Smith had been a senior IT technician at the university for just under a year when the offences took place.

He took equipment, including Dell computers and laptops, valued at £13,087 from the premises and sold it to a Middlesbrough-based second-hand store.

But he was caught after his supervisor noticed that computers had gone missing from their storage cupboard on campus.

Smith, 37, of Maddren Way, Middlesbrough, was arrested and later pleaded guilty to two offences – theft by employee and fraud by false representation.

He was facing a potential prison sentence and on Friday magistrates in North Tyneside imposed a jail term of 51 weeks – but decided to suspend the sentence for a year.

Regarding the offences, prosecutor Justin Gibson explained that Smith’s manager had ordered new computers and, once they were delivered, Smith helped to unpack and store them in a cupboard.

The storage room was locked with a key and the corridor leading up to the room was secured by a smartcard – Smith had a key as well as smartcard access to the area.

Mr Gibson added: “When his manager checked the storage cupboard some weeks later, he found there were fewer computers. He suspected that Mr Smith was involved in the disappearance of the items.

“He checked eBay for any other similar items listed for sale within 100 miles of Newcastle, which covered the Middlesbrough area.

“He then found two computers listed for sale by a company based in Middlesbrough and checked the items were the same. The police were then called.”

Officers discovered that Smith had sold the stolen equipment to the second-hand shop.

The defendant was arrested, and on being interviewed, he admitted his offence. He told police that he had a crack cocaine addiction and he stole the equipment to fund his habit.

He lost his job at the university as a result of his actions.

In mitigation, Greg Stevens said: “The defendant has had a long-term problem with drugs, mainly with crack cocaine, and he has also used heroin.

“He has recently been able to get some treatment for that. He accepts that he has these problems and is keen to get help.

“He took the computer equipment but he was hoping to buy the property back from the pawn shop and return it to the university. But he never got that far.

“He has worked all his life and is desperate to get back into employment.”

As well as the suspended sentence, magistrates ordered Smith to take part in a nine-month drug rehabilitation programme and pay £260 compensation to both the university and the second-hand store.


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