A CLEANER who was caught on camera stealing packets of cigarettes from WH Smith was given a conditional discharge.

Unemployed decorator and married father-of-five Stephen Brown, aged 53, of Oak Road in Lache, was working for a cleaning company contracted to the WH Smith store on Eastgate Street, Chester.

Sue Gibson, prosecuting, said: “A new store manager had calculated a large amount of cigarettes and tobacco had been going missing from the shop over a period of time.

“On July 17 he reviewed the CCTV and at 6.25am saw this defendant walk towards the tobacco area, open a draw and take out eight packets of cigarettes and put them in various pockets in his jacket.

“The defendant was confronted by the manager and the police were called.

“They searched the defendant and the goods were recovered.”

Brown, who had no previous convictions, admitted the offence and pleaded guilty to theft from an employer at Chester Magistrates Court, on Friday, August 6.

Chris Hunt, defending, said: “The defendant has been sacked as a consequence of this incident.

“He is absolutely so ashamed he can barely put it into words. The last three weeks have been the worst of his life.

“He is a father of five and he has taught them the straight and narrow, he’s their role model.

“He took the stupid decision to take these packets of cigarettes, they are worth a small amount of money and have been recovered.”

Sentencing Brown to a 12 month conditional discharge and ordering costs of £85 to be paid, chair magistrate Fraser Fowlie said: “It’s a breach of trust, you have kicked your employers in the teeth, and WH Smith and your family.”