Fleetwood roofer’s ruse to fund gambling

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
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A thieving apprentice defrauded taxpayers of £21,585.85 to fund his gambling addiction.

Daniel Hornby, 28, of Darbishire Road, Fleetwood, ordered expensive building materials, including lead, which were paid for by council accounts – then sold them to scrap and recycling firms to reap the profits.

He started working for Blackpool Coastal Housing, which was set up by Blackpool Council in 2007 to manage its housing stock of 5,500 homes, first as an agency worker and then an apprentice roofer.

Preston Crown Court heard Hornby began stealing to fund his gambling addiction, which started at just 13-years-old.

Prosecuting, Jon Close, said the incident dated back to 2016. He said: “As an apprentice he had no authority to order any materials on behalf of the company.

“On August 24, 2016, the company conducted an examination because it appeared to be £20,000 over budget. That revealed between May and August the defendant had submitted 35 order forms for building supplies. They were in his name with his signature.

“It would appear the goods were then automatically paid for by the company banking system.

“It transpired the defendant, having received those goods, went on to sell them to recycling or scrap businesses to gain the proceeds.”

The court heard he was interviewed in February 2018 and made full admissions, stating he was suffering a gambling addiction.

He estimated he gained £7,000 from selling the property on and pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position.

Defending, Gary Lawrenson said he had a history of alcohol abuse.

He added: “He’s a gambling addict, it’s something he immediately divulged and it’s something that’s plagued his life since he was 13 when he started gambling in arcades.

“It’s something he’s going to have to keep in check and watch. I think it’s fair to say he’s battling demons.”

Judge Andrew Woolman was told Hornby had retrained as an electrician fixing street lights.

Suspending his sentence he said he’d rather he paid the firm back some of what he owes than do unpaid work.

John Donnellon, Chief Executive of Blackpool Coastal Housing, said: “This was not a sophisticated crime.

“Thanks to the systems we have in place it was identified within a week and reported to the police. It is disappointing that an employee chose to steal off us and in doing so took money away from the local community.

“If we had been made aware of his personal challenges we would have offered him help and support and this situation could have been avoided entirely.”

Sentence...

Hornby was given a 16 month sentence suspended for two years but must pay £5,000 compensation over two years and complete a rehabilitation programme.