Account manager stole £130k to fund gambling

Saltney father steals almost £130,000 from Northwich company to fund gambling addiction

Leigh Jones of Saltney was sent to prison for defrauding a Northwich company

A fraudster who stole almost £130,000 from unsuspecting clients’  accounts to fund his internet  gambling habit has been jailed.

Leigh Jones, of Beechwood Road, Saltney,  was earning anything between £50,000 and  £100,000 a year as an account manager at Syscap in Northwich when he became addicted to gambling and started swindling  clients out of tens of thousands of pounds.

Appearing before Chester Crown Court on November 4 the 27-year-old was  sentenced to two-years behind bars after  pleading guilty to defrauding the Northwich  company to fund his addiction.

The court heard how, over a three-year  period, Jones transferred £129,614.37 out of  the accounts of numerous customers into  his own bank account and squandered it  online.

He was only caught when another member of staff took over his accounts while he was on a £7,000 family cruise with his then partner and young child around the Caribbean in  February this year – he returned to work  facing a disciplinary hearing. 

Jones, who joined the company in February 2011, had only been working as an  accounts manager for a month when he  started to gamble and began stealing  money from the accounts to feed his  habit.

At the time he was earning a net wage of  £24,500 a year, with the ability to quadruple  his wage in commission. During police  interview Jones admitted earning £113,000  in 2011 alone.

Prosecuting, Peter Hussey said during  the first 12 months of his employment  Jones, who was in charge of two members  of staff, was praised as a hard worker and  trusted employee.

However his performance began to drop  in 2012 and he was given a warning, followed by a formal written warning in  August that year.

“He arrived back to work having had his  email access blocked. He realised that probably the game was up and went into the office  to tell his [manager] he had something to say,  but there was a disciplinary hearing that  morning,” said Mr Hussey.

At that stage the company had only  discovered he had diverted £18,500 into his  personal account.  Jones sold his £27,000  Mercedes to repay some of the money, but it  was soon discovered he had stolen money  from more accounts, including £84,000 in a  single transaction.

“In his position he had access to customers’ money which he was able to divert  to his personal account whenever he  needed it,” said Mr Hussey.

“If he had not gone on holiday it would not  have come to light for some time if not at all.”

Defending, Robin Boag said Jones had  stolen cash from further accounts in an  attempt to cover his tracks as the fraud got  out of hand. To date he has repaid £42,000 to Syscap.

“He was gambling at home in the evening. Once you start doing it you think the  big win will salvage it,” said Mr Boag, who  said Jones had been forced to move back in  with his parents after his wife ended their  relationship when she found out what he  had done.

He was praised by the court for seeking  help from Gamblers’ Anonymous.

Sentencing Jones to two years behind  bars the Honourable Mr Justice Tim Holroyde, a visiting High Court Judge, slated  him as ‘greedy’, saying he had breached the  trust his customers and managers had  placed in him.

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