A FORMER Royal Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan has been blasted by a sheriff for putting his comrades’ lives at risk by selling stolen military equipment on eBay.

Jonathan Parkhill stole food, clothes and military gear, including life-saving gas masks, worth almost £14,000 from a stores building at HM Naval Base Clyde while in service over a period of more than 10 years.

And a court heard that the 34-year-old then tried to claim the items had been gifted to him by a senior officer in the Marines.

Parkhill was sentenced at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Friday after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to committing the theft at the Gibraltar Building at Faslane between January 2006 and May 2016.

But after reading a background report into Parkhill’s circumstances, Sheriff John Hamilton said he had deep concerns at the lack of remorse Parkhill had shown.

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The sheriff told Parkhill’s lawyer: “The report says he expressed some regret but little insight into the effect of his actions.

“This is stealing military property. He presumably has some loyalty to the Royal Marine Commandos, and will be fully aware people serving in the armed forces are constantly concerned about not having the equipment they need.

“If he is stealing equipment, he is part of the problem. This is kit his comrades should have been able to wear, and could have been using.

“Why shouldn’t I send him to jail? He’s stolen from the very organisation to which he claims he still has a great deal of loyalty.

"It’s the most venal thing, and that has to be brought home to him. He has brought disgrace on himself.”

Defence solicitor Mark Chambers replied: “He has always been distressed, shameful and embarrassed at what has happened.

"Having served so honourably, he has brought to his own door the shame of his conduct at the end of his career.

“These were surplus items retained while soldiers were out on manoeuvres.

“He fully accepts his responsibility.”

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Mr Chambers told the court his client had served tours of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq before being injured and eventually discharged on medical grounds.

He said Parkhill had repaid the value of the stolen items.

The court heard that the Ministry of Defence Police received intelligence in December 2015 that MoD property was being advertised for sale on eBay, and that officers found items belonging to the MoD listed under an account associated with Parkhill.

Fiscal depute Kara Watt said: “The total value of the property was £13,956.67. There was no recovery of that property.

“The accused stated to police that he had been gifted the property by a senior officer in the Royal Marines. That officer refuted the claim.

“The accused was interviewed and declined to comment.”

Ms Watt was asked for more detail about the nature of the military equipment stolen; she said it included ‘general services respirators’, confirmed by Mr Chambers to be gas masks, but gave no further information.

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Sheriff Hamilton told Parkhill: “The Appeal Court has indicated that people who steal, in the way and to the level you did, should receive a custodial sentence.

“I am not going to do that, because of your lack of previous convictions and the fact that the money has been repaid.

“But you must understand how close you have come to going to jail.

“I think this is a matter of the utmost ignominy. Stealing property from your former colleagues potentially put their lives at risk.”

Parkhill, of Braidwood Place in Linwood, was handed the maximum 300 hours of unpaid work as a punishment, and told to carry it out within 12 months.

Sheriff Hamilton added: “If I could give you more, I would. If you mess this up, the chances are you’re going to jail.”