TWO Southampton men have avoided jail after stealing red diesel from their employer.

Jamie Hiscock, 28, stole the fuel from a firm owned by his own uncle, Winchester Crown Court heard.

The judge, Mr Recorder Robert Pawson, said Hiscock, 28, had come close to going to jail for the breach of trust as he was site foreman for engineering firm Blanchard Wells.

Dawn Hyland, prosecuting, said Hiscock is the nephew of Mark Blanchard, a director of the firm, based in Soberton Heath and employing about 110 people.

Hiscock, of Spring Close, Sholing, and co-accused Zbigniew Ilinec, 62, of Bassett Green Road, both admitted theft.

Hiscock admitted stealing fuel worth about £8,000 over a month in October 2013, and Ilinec admitted stealing fuel worth about £1,000, the court was told.

Mr Blanchard estimated he had lost diesel worth about £30,000, said Miss Hyland.

Two other defendants were acquitted at trial.

Peter Asteris, mitigating for Hiscock, said his client earned about £700 a week after tax and was able to pay compensation.

Hiscock is a hard worker and runs and boxes for charity, said Mr Asteris.

He added: “He is a man who has done something utterly stupid for which he is deeply sorry.”

Richard Martin, mitigating for Ilinec, who needed a Polish interpreter, said his client had health problems, including cancer.

Recorder Pawson sentenced Hiscock to ten months in jail suspended for 12 months, ordered him to do 80 hours of community service, pay £5,000 compensation and a £100 victim surcharge.

The judge told Ilinec that he accepted he had helped Hiscock because he feared for his job.

“You are described as a humble man who to a certain extent was easily led and felt in a difficult position, although that does not excuse what you did for one moment,” he said.

Ilinec received a one-year community order with a supervision requirement for 12 months. He was told to pay a £60 victim surcharge.

There was no order for compensation.