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Financial Controller Embezzles £735k to Fund Gambling Addiction
- April 30, 2015 By Nemanja L. -
A finance executive Stephen Barrett has been jailed for four years last Monday for stealing £735,108 from the WILA Lighting Ltd company based out of Grove he worked for over the period of eight years.
The man from Hollis Close, Witney, had been taking the money from the company’s accounts to fund his gambling habit, placing bets online with famous bookmakers Paddy Power and Ladbrokes.
Sentenced to Four Years in Prison
The 58-year-old was eventually sentenced to four years in prison at the Oxford Crown Court as judge Ian Pringle deemed the crime as category one offence.
Barrett joined the company as a financial controller in 2006 and he was in charge of managing the entire financial activity. He didn’t need long to start taking advantage of the position, as it was later revealed that he started taking money from his employers within one month of joining.
Despite earning around £60,000 per year, the gambler was taking money from a total of four company accounts, with sums ranging from £8,364 to £224, 901 per year.
Barrett would create fake invoices and then make payments to his own accounts, and it was assistant Hayley Clifford who first become aware of the irregularities while on holiday in December 2013.
Barrett Pleads Guilty to Eight Counts of Fraud
The man from Witney admitted stealing from the company when confronted and later pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud, eventually earning a four-year jail sentence.
WILA owner and CEO, Michael Collett, revealed during the trial that the fraud almost ruined his business, as he was forced to make a number of employers redundant, while key personnel left the company as well. The company employs 28 staff in the UK and another 100 in Germany and is still struggling to recover from Mr Barrett’s actions.
The defending lawyer, Peter Du Feu, stated that his client’s employers were not the only ones unaware of the fraud, as the culprit’s own family was oblivious as to what was going on and obviously shocked to see Mr Barrett jailed for fraud.
The solicitor added that his client was ashamed by his actions, as he clearly allowed his gambling habit to spiral out of control.