A ROBIN Hood-style thief said he took fridges and freezers from his employers to give them to people ‘who really needed them’.

Former Golden Gates Housing manager Andrew Gerrard was spotted on CCTV cameras stealing £2,859.80 worth of white goods from a storage facility between March and August last year.

But rather than cashing in on his ill gotten gains, Halton Magistrates Court heard on Tuesday Gerrard, of Rushton Close, Burtonwood, gave the items away for free.

Speaking outside of court, the 38-year-old said: “I didn’t do it to make money, I only wanted to help out people who needed them and put items back in the container once people who were struggling had got back on their feet.

“My job had gone which I had put so much work into and built up from furnishing 30 tenants homes to more than 800 so to be told my role didn’t exist any more was extremely disheartening.

“A lot of the people I helped were struggling and not working but I’m so sorry for letting everybody down.”

Gerrard, who pleaded guilty to 11 counts of theft from an employee, had worked for the company for 13 years and was described as being ‘instrumental’ in setting up the furnishing team which helps vulnerable people in the town and equip their home for them.

The married dad-of-three said he was ‘bitterly ashamed’ of his behaviour and blamed slipping into depression for his actions.

During police interview Gerrard, who had no previous convictions, made no comment.

James Edwards, defending, said: “He went into a deep depression concerning the loss of his job and started taking items but did not sell them, he was giving them to people.

“He has not made any money out of these goods and when it was discovered he immediately resigned from the company.

“He couldn’t bring himself to talk about it with the police.

“He knows he’s let down his wife, parents, family and friends.”

Magistrates said he had been ‘foolish’ and handed Gerrard a 12 month community order including 200 hours of unpaid work.

He has also been ordered to pay Golden Gates Housing £2,859.80 in compensation.

Speaking after the hearing, PC Steve Whittaker said: "Gerrard betrayed the trust of his employees by stealing a substantial amount of white goods which were meant for social housing.

"Not only was he stealing from his employees he was stealing from the very community who relied on this registered charity.

"We are committed to bringing to justice those who commit such crimes."