A former council worker has escaped a jail sentence after he admitted spending thousands of pounds in rent on binge drinking.
Michael Lloyd was sacked from his role as a homeless prevention officer in Rhyl, after allegations emerged that he took cash meant to be handed over from tenants to private landlords. The 56 year-old man from Old Colwyn previously denied five counts of fraud, but later changed his plea to guilty.
Lloyd had been working for Denbighshire County Council until June last year – prosecutors told Mold Crown Court he had illegally pocketed £9,850 between June 2013 and December 2014.
The money was meant to help families who were facing losing their homes and find accommodation for people being released from prison.
The crimes first came to light when Lloyd was on sick leave. A woman arrived at the Rhyl offices, asking for the officer so she could give him rent money. She had been homeless but had found a flat in Rhyl with his help – she gave him a deposit and he told her to pay £350 a month.
In the end, she paid £5,900 to Lloyd (a total of seventeen payments), finding herself technically in arrears. The landlord of the flat had trusted Lloyd and requested the cash, but now feared he might have to sell off his property.
Another landlord, who had agreed a £550 monthly rental with Lloyd, discovered he was owed £2,200 when he contacted the council – while another tenant had handed £1,000 to the defendant (£500 deposit and £500 rental). Lloyd had also explicitly asked for cash when some had asked to pay by direct debit.
Lloyd told police he had been spending between £200 and £300 a week on binge drinking and was taking money to pay off loans – at the time, he said he was £40,000 in debt.
The defence said Lloyd had suffered a stroke when the offences emerged. He had been a man of good character and lived in a flat with his wife and stepson.
His barrister appealed to the court to draw back from immediate custody because of his mental health. Lloyd did not have any savings but insisted there was money available to ensure compensation would be awarded.
Judge Rhys Rowlands told Lloyd that his dishonesty had been born out of greed – and landlords and tenants had lost out because of his actions. There had been a ”real breach of trust” involving a number of victims and some significant amounts of cash – but the judge said he had been persuaded to hand down a suspended sentence because of his ill health, age and previous good character.
Lloyd received a year’s jail sentence, suspended for two years, and placed on rehabilitation. He must also observe a three-month overnight curfew between 9pm and 6am while wearing a tag. A Proceeds of Crime order was also set up to recover the money lost.