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Worker who stole £300k bought cars and fish pond

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A man stole almost £300,000 from his employers and spent it on a deposit for a new home and luxuries including a fish pond.

Geoffrey Wilkes was jailed for three years after admitting five counts of fraud and one of converting criminal property, plus a further charge of concealing criminal property.

Geoffrey Wilkes

His spending spree included the £3,000 fish pond as well as cars, furniture, decking and turf for his garden, Shrewsbury Crown Court heard.

The 63-year-old, of Viscount Avenue, Aqueduct, Telford, had been employed by Isis Furniture of Ennerdale Road, Shrewsbury, as an accounts manager.

The anomalies were only discovered when bosses at the family-owned firm, which makes bespoke furniture, called in accountants for their annual review.

The thefts happened between December 1, 2014, and January 1 this year, the court was told.

Mr Philip Beardwell, prosecuting, said: "In total there were 60 fraudulent payments amounting to £291,882.

"When accountants went to his home address to ask him about the discrepancies he said he had been 'cooking the books' to cover his own debts.

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"Most of the money had been used for his own expenses. He was interviewed by police and admitted he had taken the money to cover his debts. Then he continued to defraud the company and put a deposit on a house, bought two cars, gave gifts for his wife and children, bought decking and turfing for his garden, bought furniture and installed a £3,000 fish pond complete with fish at his home. He also had a 'nest egg' of savings."

The court heard £70,000 had been repaid but the rest remains outstanding.

Mr Beardwell said: "He breached their trust and it has caused them harm. The company was not rich and was dependant on its cash flow.

"There was planning involved. It was a sophisticated system to defraud a company."

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Mr Adrian Roberts, for Wilkes, said his client was a man of previous good character who just transferred the money from a bank account to his own.

"It was not sophisticated," said Mr Roberts.

Judge Peter Barrie told Wilkes: "Over a period of more than a year, you took nearly £300,000 from the company that employed you. That must have caused real problems for them.

"You were employed by the company to look after their accounts."

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