Ex-Royal Marine cleared of stealing ration packs to sell
A FORMER Plymouth Royal Marine has been cleared of stealing ration packs and selling them in an eBay fiddle.
Warrant Officer Lee Rowe sighed with relief and lifted his eyes to the heavens as a jury at Exeter Crown Court took less than 20 minutes to clear him of three charges of theft.
Rowe, aged 37, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now free to continue his career with the Royal Marines, where he continued to serve while awaiting his Exeter Crown Court trial.
He had been accused of taking ration packs, selling them on eBay, and then claiming wrongly to have given the proceeds to Help for Heroes.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
He was also accused of stealing a large amount of fuel in jerry cans which was found in the garage of his home in Derbyshire.
He was found not guilty after telling the jury he had either bought the ration packs from others on the internet or taken them with permission when they were surplus to requirements after being returned unused from exercises.
He said the fuel was past its sell by date and he was in the process of returning it to the depot when he had been unexpectedly sent to Afghanistan and therefore been unable to deliver it.
He was cleared after a succession of senior Royal Marines, including his current commanding officer, gave him glowing references which praised his honesty and integrity.
Rowe, aged 37, of Rangewood Road, South Normanton, Derbyshire, denied three counts of theft and was found not guilty of all offences.
During a week long trial the jury heard how his eBay records showed he had sold £4,000 worth of ration packs. A further £1,000 worth were found at his home, along with thousands of pounds worth of fuel.
The prosecution alleged he stole the packs, fuel, and two tool boxes while he was in charge of the motor transport pool at 539 Assault Squadron in Turnchapel, Plymouth, between 2006 and 2008.
He was arrested in 2009 when he was stationed at the Commando Logistics base in Chivenor, near Barnstaple. He has previously served at Lympstone, near Exmouth and is currently based with 40 Commando at Norton Manor in Taunton.
Rowe told the jury he found the discarded ration packs next to a skip at Turnchapel after the Assault Squadron returned from an Arctic exercise and was given permission to take them.
He said he gave the money he got for them to the families of two friends killed in Iraq in 2006 by buying items of their kit for vastly inflated prices at a kit sale in a Plymouth pub.
He had paid £500 for a single button and later visited the family of a fallen comrade in Burton, Derbyshire to deliver a cheque from the whole unit.
He told the jury the fuel found in his garage had been left there when he was en route from Turnchapel to the MoD fuel store at West Moors, Dorset.
He said he unloaded it because he was moving house and had personal belongings stacked behind it. He was then unable to reload it because a jack he was using to move pallets broke.
He had still been trying to return the fuel when sent to Afghanistan and he had been unable to sort out the problem before his arrest.