A “DESPERATE” dad whose electricity meter was removed helped himself to power to the tune of £1,500 by tampering with the mains supply, a court heard.

Andrew Roger Leonard, 44, got ‘free’ electricity over three years, claiming that he did it because of his 14-month-old baby.

Burnley magistrates were told how Leonard had had his meter taken out by npower in July 2009 because he had been abstracting electricity and owed them a lot of money.

The defendant, of Keighley Avenue, Colne, admitted abstracting electricity worth £1,507.66, on or between July 16, 2009 and July 12, 2012.

Leonard, who appeared in court the day after he received a community order for shoplifting, was given a nine month, concurrent, supervision order.

Parveen Akhtar, prosecuting, said that npower contacted the police last August.

Leonard had been living at the same address for several years and the electricity meter had been removed in July 2009. Npower had visited the property five times since it was removed, and on each occasion it appeared that the defendant was tampering with the mains supply inside the property.

The prosecutor said: “They believe he has tampered with the equipment in order to divert the electricity supply.”

She added that the defendant was fully co-operative when he was arrested.

Nick Cassidy, for Leonard, said that when the meter was removed, he was advised that unless he paid npower what he owed them, they would not install a new meter.

He had made efforts to try and repay that amount, which was ‘quite substantial’ but had not been able to.

The company had been to the defendant’s home on five occasions and he had tried to persuade them to put in a new meter.

The solicitor said: “He accepts that he foolishly tampered with the equipment and abstracted electricity.”

Leonard, who formally had issues with drink and drugs, had been told that the electricity debt would follow him until it was resolved.

The magistrates told Leonard: “We feel there was some degree of desperation.”