Council worker in court for making £10k selling parts destined for tip
A COUNCIL worker was sacked for selling scrap computer parts but one manager felt his enterprise was a "jolly good idea," a court heard.
The comment was made after county council auditors were called in to investigate the eBay sales operation of Ian Holwell, who worked in its IT department at County Hall, Matlock.
He admitted making £10,000 by selling computer parts "marked for disposal" and was ordered to do 150 hours' unpaid community work.
Holwell, 52, who had never been in trouble before, was also given a 18-week prison term, suspended for a year.
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Recorder Michael Stephens told him: "If the employer says 'put it in landfill and leave it to rot,' it is for them to decide.
"It is not for you to harvest the parts, sell them and provide an income," he told Holwell, who admitted stealing items over two years.
Mark Achurch, prosecuting, told Derby Crown Court yesterday: "The council received a whistle-blowing e-mail from an anonymous source alleging this defendant was stealing and putting items on eBay."
Auditors looked at 51 tower computers and laptops, finding 35 had either hard drives or memory devices removed.
Holwell took items "marked for disposal" and was suspended on February 9 last year before being dismissed two months later.
When auditors checked his eBay business, they found he had made £18,000 and he accepted that £10,000 of that had come from the council's equipment.
Mr Achurch said Holwell had been moved from a job on the help desk to what he "perceived as a lower role in the organisation."
Sarah Munro, in mitigation, said: "What he was stealing had no value whatsoever to the county council. It would to go landfill and destruction and not recycled somewhere else.
"What he was doing was said by one manager to be a 'jolly good idea' and was making some money rather than destroying things which could have been salvaged.
"He has profited and the council had not thought of it and, in doing it, he has lost his job and his good name."
She said Holwell had debts of £100,000 and his wife had just sold a piece of china.
"This month, they will sell furniture. It is tragic, they really have nothing," added Miss Munro, for Holwell of Upland Rise, Chesterfield.
After the case, Derbyshire County Council said: "The council does all it can to ensure the highest levels of trust and honesty from all our employees."