Thief’s compensation bid for ‘trauma’

A MAN who was marched to the police station with a sign around his neck branding him a “thief” is suing the boss he stole from for an estimated �90,000 for the humiliation he suffered.

Mark Gilbert, 41, was paraded through the streets of Witham, with a homemade cardboard sign strung around his neck saying “THIEF. I Stole �845 am on my way to the police station”.

His boss Simon Cremer marched him to the police station in October 2008 after discovering the father-of-three had written out cheque for himself and taken it to Cash Converters.

Mr Cremer, who runs a floor fitting firm, was stunned when Gilbert was released with a caution for theft and he was charged with false imprisonment - which carries a maximum life sentence.

Mr Cremer, 46, and his brother Andrew Cremer, 42, and two colleagues were hauled into court but to their relief the case against them was dropped in December 2008.

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But the nightmare is not over for Mr Cremer as his former worker is now suing him for an estimated �90,000 for two years of lost of earnings and the “distress” he suffered.

Mr Cremer, a father-of-two, said: “He has put in a civil claim form which is in the hands of my solicitor. His claim is for the trauma, distress and psychological help he needed.

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“He’s claiming he’s not be able to work for the last two years because of the trauma and distress he has suffered.

“I don’t think it is right you steal from someone and then sue them.

“We are having to make an out of court offer, very reluctantly, on the advice of a barrister.

“I believe he’s got insurance to pay for his legal costs. Basically I cannot afford to fight the case, I haven’t got the money. If I went to court and fought it my costs alone would be �30,000 to �40,000 - that’s even if I won.”

Mr Cremer would not reveal how much he is offering Mark Gilbert as an out of court settlement.

He added: “I wish I didn’t have to give him a single penny. It doesn’t feel right writing a cheque out to someone who stole from me.”

Mr Cremer lives with his partner Karen Boardman, 45, who is battling breast cancer in Little Maplestead. He added: “She has just had an operation. Obviously the stress and worry of this is not helping things.”

Mr Gilbert, who lived in Colchester but is believed to have moved to Bristol, was earning up to �1,000-a-week when he was employed by a floor fitting at Mr Cremer’s firm In House Flooring.

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