A man who stole at work – when he had previously been to prison before for doing the same thing – has been jailed.

Leigh Jones, 30, diverted customers’ payments into his own bank account in order to pay bills.

He also used some of the money to gamble in a bid to get enough money to pay the money back – but failed.

In total, Jones had taken more than £3,228.

Position of trust

Jones, of Beechwood Road in Saltney, admitted theft and fraud in a position of trust when he appeared at the local magistrates’ court and on Thursday (April 14) at Mold Crown Court received a 12 month prison sentence.

His barrister had asked the court for help – he had a gambling problem and other difficulties which needed intervention, he said.

But Judge Niclas Parry told Jones that dishonesty was not a disease.

“It is not a condition, it is a choice, made in your case by an intelligent man who knows right from wrong,” he said.

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Over a 13 month period he repeatedly breached the trust of his employer. He harmed the relationship between that employer and customers.

Company stuck by him

The judge said that when the company found out about his previous offending “they stuck by you and gave you a chance”.

But Jones went on to do it “again and again”.

The case was aggravated by the fact that three years ago he did exactly the same thing but on that occasion it involved nearly £130,000 and he was jailed for two years.

“You ignored warnings, you did not take chances, “ he said.

But he took into account his guilty pleas and that the money had since been repaid.

Previous conviction

The court heard he failed to disclose the previous conviction when he was taken on by Comtek Network Systems on the Deeside Industrial Park.

The data, communications and telecoms company had taken him on as a sales accounts manager, explained prosecuting barrister Sion ap Mihangel.

When he was on holiday it was discovered that money paid by a customer had ended up in his own personal bank account.

On his return he apologised, said that it was a genuine error, and said that when he was previously self employed he had been so used to giving his own bank details that he got mixed up.

He paid the money back and he was warned that it should never happen again.

New bank account

The company discovered that he had been to prison for defrauding a previous employer, something he had not disclosed when applying for the job.

Interviewed, he admitted he had not told them about his previous convictions because he would not have got the job and it was decided to give him a chance.

He provided a new bank account to his employers into which his salary was paid.

But it was later discovered that further money had been diverted into the original bank account that he had.

Had not repaid money

An investigation showed that in total he received £2,310 into his personal account from customers of the company.

He was dismissed before Christmas, promised to repay the money but had not done so.

The defendant used some of the money gamble to try and win enough money to pay the company back. But he lost.

There had then been three further transactions when he used the money to pay bills and to gamble to try and pay it back.

Mr Wilson said it was a case of history repeating itself, although not at such a serious level.

Gambling issues

In the past he mismanaged his finances, he had gambling issues and he and his former partner were living beyond their means.

But he was someone the probation service believed they could work with.

Working in an office environment had been problematic for him and the risk could be reduced by a thinking skills course.

After he was sacked by the complainant company he worked in the warehouse and had since become qualified to work as a railway maintenance engineer.

He suggested a suspended sentence and community courses so that he “does not fall into the same trap again”.

Previous jail term

In 2013 he was jailed for two years after he stole almost £130,000 from unsuspecting clients’ accounts to fund his internet gambling habit.

Jones 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.

Chester Crown 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.