A PART-time scrap metal dealer has been cleared of stealing 40 fire extinguishers after telling a court he found them in a skip.
Kyle Johnson was accused of stealing the fire extinguishers from Brymor, a construction firm in Parklands Business Park, Denmead.
The 26-year-old was spotted at Stratfield Industrial Estate, in Waterlooville, off Hambledon Road, ripping the triggers and nozzles from fire extinguishers and throwing them in a nearby stream before driving off.
The witness called police and Mr Johnson, of London Road, Waterlooville, was arrested a few days later and charged with theft and criminal damage.
During his police interview Mr Johnson, who collects scrap metal at night but works as a machine fitter during the day, admitted the vehicle seen by the witness was his but refused to comment further.
At Fareham Magistrates’ Court yesterday Mr Johnson denied the charges.
He said he found 10 abandoned fire extinguishers in a skip and they were already in bad condition. Explaining why he gave no comment responses during his police interview he said: ‘I always say no comment to the police.’
He went on: ‘I’m not going to help police. I don’t like police, it’s a known fact. I’ve got a job to do. I’ve never had any respect for police at all. It’s my right to say “no comment”.’
He said he had never visited Parklands Business Park and did not know where it was.
Mr Johnson told the court there were around 3,000 scrap metal dealers in the Portsmouth area.
He said that on his nightly visits to industrial estates to pick up metal he was given permission to take by the owners, he would regularly see other dealers.
On the night in question, March 26, he said he saw dealers in Stratfield Industrial Estate who may have dumped the fire extinguishers.
He added: ‘I wish I just left them there considering the scrap value I got for them.’
The Crown Prosecution Service offered no forensic evidence to the court and magistrates found Mr Johnson not guilty of both charges.
The total cost to Brymor was £1,600 and only 15 of the extinguishers were recovered. All were badly damaged. The firm refused to comment on the case.