A supermarket boss who stole hundreds of pounds worth of cigarettes from his store admitted he was a “prat” after being shopped by his wife.

Philip Relf, a Tesco store manager with 25 years of retail experience, walked out of the Tesco Express branch in Borough Road, Birkenhead, carrying two boxes filled with cartons of cigarettes worth £1,327 on January 31 this year.

His lawyer told a court this week he stole because of the financial burden of supporting children in Brighton from a previous relationship.

Mr Relf has now sold the house he shared with his wife and has moved back to Brighton where he is said to have a new job at a garden centre.

He was caught after his then partner Wendy Dennis found two boxes filled with cigarettes at their home which she suspected he had stolen from his workplace.

Wirral magistrates' court heard how Mr Potter had checked the store's CCTV, which showed Relf leaving the store carrying the boxes on the afternoon of January 31.

Relf, who pleaded guilty to a single charge of theft at an earlier hearing, was ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work and to pay £145 in costs.