A WAREHOUSE manager disgruntled at his pay during the first Covid lockdown took to stealing furniture from the business, a court heard.

But, bosses at Durham Bed and Furniture Centre recognised missing stock on photographs taken at a children’s party at Craig Haikney’s home, posted on social media, and confronted him.

Durham Crown Court was told Haikney was “evasive and unable to explain himself".

Annelise Haugstad, prosecuting, said he left a meeting with management, on March 1, saying he no longer wanted to work for the company.

Miss Haugstad said in a subsequent search of his home numerous items of recognised furniture were seized and identified as missing stock from the business, including tables, cabinets, clocks and lanterns, some in use and others still boxed.

They were valued at £11,000, but all were recovered.

Miss Haugstad said when interviewed by police, Haikney made, “full and frank” admissions, outlining he worked for the Gilesgate-based business, in Durham, for three years.

He began as a driver and became a warehouseman but had a “falling out” over pay at the time of the first lockdown, in spring 2020.

Haikney said he was offered extra money, which initially satisfied him, but that only lasted a few weeks, and he remained dissatisfied at the company’s attitude to him.

But he told police he did regret taking the stock, conceding it was “stupid”.

Miss Haugstad said Haikney’s activities put the company’s reputation in doubt, particularly with customers who did not receive missing goods, while also questioning the integrity of other staff.

The 39-year-old defendant, of Lambden Close, North Shields, admitted theft.

Alexander Bousfield, in mitigation, said with virtually no previous convictions and none of a similar nature, his client could not believe he had put himself at risk of a prison sentence.

Mr Bousfield said despite his initial obstruction, the defendant did eventually co-operate and has done so since, while he has been able to find new employment.

Judge James Adkin said due to the defendant’s lack of past offences, and, as the stolen goods have been returned or paid for, he could suspend the 14-month prison sentence for two years.

But he ordered him to perform 100-hours’ unpaid work, to observe a six-month weekend 7pm to 5am home curfew, and pay £425 costs.