A crooked car sales manager jailed for a year for a £37,500 fraud, has been released from prison after serving only 3 months and one day of his sentence, it was revealed today.

At Gloucester Crown Court Judge Jamie Tabor QC raised his eyebrows on being told that Craig Wellings was already at liberty. He said Wellings was 'probably very surprised' to have been released on parole licence so soon.

Wellings, 44, of Church Lane, Worcester, was sentenced on 26th September last year after he admitted pocketing 'cash back' money which was supposed to be given to customers of the Parklands Audi dealership in Gloucester.

Today he was back before the court for a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

He told the judge he has been released under a home curfew which runs for another nine weeks.

Wellings did not dispute that his benefit from crime was £37,500 and that he has assets to pay back the entire amount, said prosecutor Nick Fridd. His assets are the equity in his former matrimonial home which is already on the market and has a potential buyer, Mr Fridd said.

Judge Tabor made a confiscation order for that amount against Wellings and said it has to be paid within six months or he will go back to jail for fifteen months.

When the money is handed over by Wellings it is to be paid to the Blade Motor Group as compensation, the judge ruled.

Last September the court heard Wellings had been sales manager at Parklands Audi on the A40 Northern by-pass in Gloucester.

Wellings had recruited one of his salesmen, Gary Smith, 42, of Dorothy Cres, Worcester, to help him with the scam.

Smith was sentenced to 12 months jail suspended for 18 months and was also ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work.

He had admitted the same offence on the basis that it was Wellings who pressurised him into it and that he made no financial gain.

The offences were discovered when both Wellings and Smith were away on holiday and an audit was carried out.

Accountants found that cashback of £1,000 each had apparently been given to 37 customers and £500 to one other customer.

But checks revealed all them money had been paid in Wellings' bank account.

When Wellings was confronted he fully admitted his guilt and said he needed the money to pay bills and fund his lifestyle.

Wellings was divorced from his ex wife in 2009 but still retains 50 percent of the equity in the matrimonial home, enabling the court to order the full repayment under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the court heard.