Soldier hid £260k of MoD money in his airing cupboard and forgot

Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire heard WO2 Hodgkinson twice tried and failed to get a courier to take the vacuum-packed cash, instead returning it to a safe in his base. He also tried on one occasion to take it to a bank, but found it closed when he got there as it was a Friday.However, he removed the money from his office in November 2017 because he feared it would cause an embarrassing incident if a forthcoming inspection found such a large amount of money in the safe. Instead, prosecutor Rupert Gregory told the court, he carried the money back to his flat and hid it in his airing cupboard.“It [had] remained in the safe rather longer than one or two nights,” Mr Gregory said.  “There was to be an inspection in October or November 2017, and Hodgkinson took the money from the safe and went home with it.  An Army Warrant Officer hid €300,000 (£260k) of Ministry of Defence money in his airing cupboard after he failed to get it couriered back to base, a court martial has heard.The soldier received a severe reprimand and was fined after he ‘forgot’ that he had not returned the money for four months.Kevin Hodgkinson, 43, who was serving in the British Army training unit in Gibraltar at the time, claimed he’d stashed the money at home to spare senior officers embarrassment after he failed to get it couriered back to the UK. On remembering the money – which had originally been part of the ready cash float on board HMS Ocean – was still in the cupboard, the court martial was told he called his boss, Major Wilson, and said: ‘Ma’am, I f***** up’.A panicked WO2 Hodgkinson then ran from his home, arriving in Major Wilson’s office puffing and panting, carrying the €300,000 shrink-wrapped in a rucksack. He claimed he had forgotten it was in his airing cupboard.WO2 Hodgkinson had been working as a financial systems administrator with the responsibility of transporting the cash, via a courier, back to Britain. It was put into a safe overnight until it could be carried back. HMS Ocean, an amphibious assault ship that Britain sold to Brazil in 2018 for £84 million. The missing €300,000 was the left over ready cash float from the ship's previous patrol.  “He says he removed the money because he didn’t want the chain of command being embarrassed by such a large sum of money being in the safe when it shouldn’t be.“He fully accepts he failed properly to safeguard the funds.” Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire. Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire.Credit:Solent News & Photo Agency HMS Ocean, an amphibious assault ship that Britain sold to Brazil in 2018 for £84 million. The missing €300,000 was the left over ready cash float from the ship’s previous patrol. Credit:LPhot Paul Hall/PA The money had been on board the amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean, which docked in Gibraltar in September 2017, and was swapped for $300,000 as the ship was heading to the Caribbean to offer disaster support during Hurricane Irma. The unused stack of Euros should have been sent swiftly back to the UK. A court martial board fined WO2 Hodgkinson £2,500 and issued a Severe Reprimand.Judge Alistair McGregor said: “It was your duty to ensure the money’s safety and you should have secured its onward passage.“In our view your actions fall far below that of a competent financial systems administrator of your rank, position and experience.“Your actions put a very large sum of her majesty’s money at significant risk.”WO2 Hodgkinson, who is now based at the British Army Training Unit Suffield in Alberta, Canada, admitted one count of failure to perform a duty. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more