CHESTER City Council is looking to hire a specialist barrister to recover £90,000 stolen from Council Tax-payers by a disgraced ex-council boss.
Timothy Valentine Metcalfe, was last year sentenced to 20 months imprisonment for stealing from his former employer and disabled people.
He did this by dipping into a budget used to fund the Frodsham Street-based Chester Shopmobility scheme, which hires scooters to people with disabilities.
Just £1,000 has been seized from Metcalfe but the city council is considering other ways of recovering the rest of the money.
The report of the internal audit manager states: “The city council is looking to employ a specialist barrister to work on the case to seek recovery of monies from the former principal access officer’s pension. The work is ongoing.”
A council and police investigation was launched in 2007 after Metcalfe went absent without leave and he was dismissed for gross misconduct last June.
This investigation led to a number of recommendations for control improvements.
The former principal access officer was able to defraud the council because he acted as treasurer for the Chester Access Group, an organisation which ran Chester Shopmobility but stopped holding meetings after 2000, giving the officer a free rein.
Metcalfe would initiate a fictitious order with the council on behalf of the access group but ask a junior officer to sign the form so it looked like they had raised the order. Metcalfe then authorised the order.
Metcalfe stole £89,000 from the access group during a six-year period from 2001 until early 2007.
He would replenish the Chester Access Group bank account by raising an invoice to the council on access group-headed paper several times a year for expenses relating to the provision of Chester Mobility services.
At no time did he make clear he was the treasurer and, as the council’s principal access officer, he would authorise those payments.
Chester Crown Court heard Metcalfe had a drink addiction and a gambling addiction. He was also a Middlesbrough FC fan who spent “a lot of money” going to matches and he “liked going to Thailand and had a series of girlfriends”.