A FORMER soldier who plundered tens of thousands of pounds worth of stock from work to sell on eBay has walked free from court.

Scott Spencer took high value watches, electrical items and other stock from warehouse of the Cotswold Outdoor Centre, in Kemble.

But after hearing the 27-year-old was suffering post traumatic stress disorder from his time in Afghanistan a judge spared him jail.

Charles Thomas, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court Spencer was employed in the warehouse picking out internet orders.

In early March this year a stock take found discrepancies, with a number of £500 Garmin GPS watches missing.

He said it was first thought 14 of the devices had gone but a further check revealed 19 were missing along with other small items from the Garmin range.

As well as setting up video surveillance a company investigator also looked online to see if anyone was offering the watches, exclusive to Cotswold Outdoors, for sale.

He found an eBay account called Lawnmower72 selling them, along with other items, and noted that Spencer's Instagram page had the same name.

Bosses called him in to speak with him about the missing goods and, although he denied any wrongdoing, he was dismissed.

However a police investigation revealed he had received about £31,771 through his Paypal account from selling the goods on eBay.

As well as the watches he said he had also stolen ladies' walking boots, tents and cagoules, which he could easily sneak out of the building.

When he was questioned he initially maintained his denials but went on to admit what he had done to police.

He told them that after leaving the army he struggled with budgeting, as that had been done for him, and then tried to gamble his way out of debt before turning to crime.

Spencer, formerly of Swindon but now living in Falmouth, pleaded guilty to one count of theft.

David Maunder, defending, said his client had been a 'boy soldier', having signed up at 16 straight after leaving school.

As a result of his tour of Afghanistan in 2009 he had been suffering psychological difficulties and was now diagnosed as having post traumatic stress disorder.

He said after leaving the services of his own volition he had struggled to cope with organising his life as a civilian.

Passing sentence Judge Peter Blair QC said: "You suffer from psychological issues, I have read a report about that and the many references that have been provided to me, because of your army service and people's views of you generally.

"You fall into a category where I can be more merciful than I otherwise thought I would be prompted to be."

He imposed a nine month jail term suspended for two years with 200 hours of unpaid work and told him to pay £500 he had saved as compensation towards what he took.