“You should have thought of all this before you started milking your employer for cash,” a man who swindled £6,000 from his boss at the Bunbury Arms was told when his lawyer pleaded for a suspended sentence on the grounds that his pregnant wife and children would suffer.
Francoise Lombard, 50, was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to one count of theft at Chester Crown Court today (May 18).
He was hired as a kitchen manager by Janet Frain, landlady of the Stoak pub, and given a weekly allowance of between £400 and £500 so he could buy fresh meat and vegetables.
But between October 1, 2015, and January 5 this year, Lombard pocketed the cash and instead charged the cost of the supplies to credit accounts he had access to, covering his tracks with fraudulent invoices.
The court heard that he stole because he felt he was being underpaid for the level of responsibility he was asked to take on.
Mrs Frain became concerned about how he was managing the books, so she challenged him.
During the ensuing confrontation, Lombard – who has since found employment at a hotel in Liskeard, Cornwall – admitted taking money but claimed he would find £4,500 to pay her back and would work off the remaining balance.
But when he was arrested on January 13, he denied he had ever accepted any wrongdoing.
“There was a high degree of trust placed in him,” said prosecutor Mike Stephenson.
Lombard has a lengthy criminal record featuring various dishonesty offences in his native Belgium.
His defence barrister Gerald Pachter, however, submitted that Lombard has never been in trouble in the UK and his last conviction was 13 years ago.
Mr Pachter contended that Mrs Lombard – who speaks very little English – would suffer emotionally and financially should her husband be handed an immediate prison sentence.
But Judge Roger Dutton declared that the impact of putting Lombard behind bars on his family was no basis for suspending a jail sentence.
He said: “You should have thought of all this before you started milking your employer for cash.