March 31, 2022 1.30 pm

Binman to pay back £42k for stealing diesel

Likely to face prison if he doesn’t pay it back in time

A refuse collector who stole diesel from his own bin lorry and sold some on the black market has been given three months to pay compensation of over £42,000 to South Kesteven District Council.

Leonard Frankish, 65, was given an eight month suspended jail sentence in December after he admitted syphoning off fuel from the truck he was driving for South Kesteven District Council over a five year period.

A proceeds of crime hearing at Lincoln Crown Court was today (Thursday, March 31) told Frankish, of Princess Drive, Grantham, made a total benefit of £42,352.35p from his criminal activity.

Judge Simon Hirst gave Frankish three months to meet the confiscation order and warned him he could face 12 months imprisonment if the money is not paid back.

Michael Cranmer-Brown, prosecuting, told the hearing Frankish had available assets of more than £67,000 which was mainly in the form of his share of his home.

The court heard Frankish was currently pursuing equity release to realise the compensation figure without selling his address.

Judge Hirst told Frankish he would have to stay in touch with his solicitors and would be required to apply for a further three months to pay back the money if the equity could not be released within 12 weeks.

The judge warned Frankish: “If you don’t pay back the money within time it is likely that you will go to prison for 12 months.”

At his sentence hearing in December the court was told Frankish regularly removed diesel from his bin lorry at remote locations during his round and then dropped it off in 25 litre barrels at his home.

Hal Ewing, prosecuting, said suspicion fell on him after it was noticed that the fuel consumption of his lorry dropped when he was on holiday.

Mr Ewing told the court Frankish worked on his own as both the driver and loader for a small refuse truck designed for narrow roads.

When police tried to track him down during his round they noticed a wet patch on the floor where his lorry had recently been parked.

The court heard officers eventually stopped Frankish near Caythorpe Heath.

He replied “you’re joking” when told of the allegations but police found two barrels disguised with bin bags in the vehicle. Similar barrels and hoses were found at his home.

In total Frankish stole nearly 32,000 litres of diesel. Mr Ewing said evidence from his phone and Facebook proved he had sold on diesel worth £4,650.

During police interview Frankish admitted stealing diesel for seven or eight months, but he later pleaded guilty to a much longer theft from South Kesteven District Council between December 1, 2015 and July 4, 2020.

In mitigation the court was told Frankish would now lose his home to pay back the money and had found a new job in the construction industry.

He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and must also complete 200 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Passing sentence Judge Hirst told Frankish the main reason for not sending him to jail was that because he was going to lose his house.

But the judge added: “That was your choice.”