Tenant sold Derby Homes's fridge, washing machine and cooker because he needed cash

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A Derby Homes tenant sold the fridge, washing machine and cooker provided for him “because he was in dire financial straits”.

Thomas Hodgkinson moved into the property in Blackmore Street in September 2016, a court was told.

But, when officers from Derby Homes, Derby City Council's housing provider, went to check on the property as part of a routine visit, they discovered all of the large electrical items were missing.

At first, Hodgkinson told them he had got rid of them “because they all broke”.

Man looking for food in an open fridge in a dark kitchen late at night

Thomas Hodgkinson admitted selling a fridge, washing machine and cooker that belonged to Derby Homes

But the 27-year-old later admitted he “damaged them in a fit of rage” and sold them to a scrap dealer.

Handing Hodgkinson a two-year conditional discharge, District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said: “I accept you have your difficulties but people have bent over backwards to help you.

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Derby City Council has provided for you a home with various goods which have enabled you to live and you have repaid that by smashing them up and getting rid of them and not paying them back.

“The net effect of that is that someone else that needs those goods will not get them, the council will have to replace them and that means the tax payer ultimately has to pay for these items.”

Peter Bettany, prosecuting at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court, said that, when Hodgkinson was given the Derby Homes property last year, it came furnished with the white goods that later went missing.

He said: “Several months after he moved in, the property was visited by Derby Homes and they discovered that the goods had been removed.

“He said he had got rid of them because they had all been broken and he was put on a repayment plan.

“But he did not repay the money he owed and the council realised they were not going to get the money they were owed so started criminal investigations against him.

“He then admitted he had destroyed the items in a fit of rage and anger and had sold them to a scrap dealer.”

Hodgkinson pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage and, as well as the conditional discharge, he was ordered to pay £770.51 compensation to the council.

David Cusack, mitigating, said his client did have anger issues but “the real reason was that he sold them because of the dire financial position he found himself in”.

Mr Cusack said: “He had real financial problems and he tells me he knows he should not have done what he had done.”

Speaking after sentencing, a Derby City Council spokesperson, said: “Those who do not own furniture when accepting a tenancy with Derby Homes can apply for a furniture pack under our Furnished Tenancy Scheme.

“The furniture will always belong to Derby Homes and, when a furnished tenancy is accepted, the tenant agrees to keep the furniture in their property at all times. We will take action against tenants if we have evidence that the furniture has been sold.

“Derby Homes offers financial advice for all tenants should they require it and we manage the Derby Money Advice to provide information and support. If a tenant makes us aware that they are in financial difficulty, we will be able to put measures in place to support them.”