Thieving comic escapes jail

...and now the judge wants to see his stand-up set

A comic who stole £50,000 of books has been spared jail – because the judge wants him to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe.

After telling Gary Little he would not be sent to prison, Lord McEwan added that he planned to see his stand-up act.

The 44-year-old comedian admitted taking thousands of titles from publishers HarperCollins while he was working as a forklift truck driver at their warehouse near Glasgow.

The offence could have landed him back in jail as he was still on a four-year licence for a drugs conviction.

But at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday, Lord McEwan said: ‘The right thing to do would be to make no order [for imprisonment] and hopefully he will be able to appear at the festival in Edinburgh. I might even go and see him.

‘He's got enough trouble and it would be unmerciful to add to it.’

Little netted more than £60,000 by selling the stolen books on eBay between April 2003 and February 2005.

The stand-up – who will be sentenced next week – has promised to sell his flat to pay back his ex-employers.

Little started out as a stand-up comedian in 2003, when he was a finalist in a talent competition run by the Daily Record. He performed in The Stand’s Best of Scottish showcase at the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe.

Published: 25 Apr 2008

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