A former commercial manager who stole £42,000 from Wirral Hospital trust has been jailed for 21 months.

Paul Smith, who managed one of the trust's income-generation schemes from an office at Clatterbridge Hospital, pocketed the money for goods the trust did not even know it had supplied.

At the end of the hearing, Liverpool Crown Court heard that Mr Smith was just under£3,000 in arrears with his legal aid payments - which could mean his legal team will not be paid.

Mr Smith, 48, of Vyner Road, Wallasey, pleaded guilty to 65 charges of stealing sundry medical supplies belonging to the trust between April 1995 and July 1997.

His counsel told the court that he had joined the trust's predecessor organisation from school, aged 15, as a warehouse boy, but had received no training in his rise to head the income generating scheme.

Had there been proper auditing, supervision or cross-referencing of goods going in, going out and money received, the offences could never have been committed, the court was told.