Judge tells Royal Marine to repay £51k loot or go to jail
PUBLISHED: 13:36 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:36 12 September 2019
A Royal Marine who stole thousands of pounds worth of boots and sold them on eBay has been ordered to repay most of the money or go to jail.
Former warrant officer Michael Bath was jailed for 15 months last year and has now served his sentence and been released, but will go back for another 12 months unless he repays £51,803.07.
Bath used his trusted position at the commando training base at Lympstone to steal £60,000 worth of kit including hundreds of pairs of specially made military issue boots.
He also sold hundreds of cap badges and even six of the coveted green berets during a four year campaign of dishonesty.
A judge at Exeter Crown Court has now made an order under the Proceeds of Crime Act which strips him of all his available assets, including cash from bank accounts and a vehicle.
Recorder Mr Jonathan Barnes declared Bath's total benefit from crime to be £60,795.44 and the amount available to pay compensation as £51,803.07.
He ordered him to pay within three months of go to jail for a year in default at Exeter Crown Court on Thursday (September 12).
The settlement had been agreed in advance by lawyers representing Bath and the prosecution.
In April 2018, Bath, aged 49, of Horton Path, Blyth, Northumberland, admitted theft and possession of criminal property and was jailed for 15 months by Judge Michael Cullum.
During that case it emerged that he stole the kit to pay for a gambling habit that he blamed on the stress of serving in Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Afghanistan during a 29 year career.
He blamed his behaviour on the mental strain of working in the welfare department, where one of his tasks was to break the news to the families of those who were killed or serious wounded in action.
He was caught when an authorised Ministry of Defence surplus dealer found their prices were being undercut by Bath's eBay site.
Bath's job at Lympstone involved supplying recruits with bedding but he used his access to the stores to steal huge numbers of boots and other kit.
He hid his connection to the eBay site by registering it in the name of an old school friend in the North East and laundering the proceeds through his Paypal account.
A probation report said Bath had shown remorse, describing himself as 'completely selfish'. He said he started stealing at a time when he was drinking spirits and 12 cans of beer a day and losing money on online gambling.
He estimated he has lost a total of £170,000 on gambling, including spending his £53,000 Marine discharge money within three months. He is now working with the charity Combat Stress.
During his time as a warrant officer he had worked in a job where he had to visit the homes of those killed in action and break the news to the families.