Accountant fuels gambling addiction with company funds

Monday 09 December 2013 Updated: 09/12 09:40

A TRUSTED accountant with a Leamington car dealership diverted thousands of pounds in payments to his own bank account to help fund his gambling addiction.

Jake Tomlinson then walked out when he realised the game was up after one of his bosses spotted a discrepancy, Warwick Crown Court has heard.

Tomlinson of Leather Street, Long Itchington, escaped being jailed after pleading guilty to the theft of more than £17,000 from Allen Ford.

The 25-year-old was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 18 months, with 18 months supervision, and was ordered to do 140 hours of unpaid work and a total of £17,065 compensation.

Prosecutor Lal Amarasinghe said Tomlinson had worked in the accounts department at Allen Ford’s dealership in Tachbrook Park Drive, since September 2011.

There were four people employed in the department, but only two of them had the authority to make changes to suppliers’ accounts.

The offences came to light in August when deputy finance director Mark Anderson queried a financial discrepancy – which prompted Tomlinson to walk out and not return.

An internal investigation revealed Tomlinson had modified account details and paid a total of £17,065 into his account over 15 transactions between June 2012 and August this year.

When he was arrested at his home, Tomlinson said he had been stealing the money to finance his gambling addiction, betting on football matches at local bookies.

He explained he had had the problem since he was 18 and at university, and had received some counselling while he was in London at the time, but it had only lasted six weeks.

Mr Amarasinghe added after being granted bail, Tomlinson wrote to Allen Ford in September to apologise.

Simon Hunka, defending, said Tomlinson deeply regretted what he had done, and ‘would very much wish to pay the full amount back.’

He said Tomlinson had prepared a plan of how he would be able to repay the money, beginning with £5,000 provided by his father.

And to raise the rest of the money Tomlinson has taken on two jobs – one a day job with a local firm, and the other working evenings in a pub, taking his total take-home pay to around £2,000 a month.

Sentencing Tomlinson, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones told him: “This was serious because it was in breach of trust and because it is a significant sum of money.

“But since you committed the offence no-one could have done more to mitigate their position. You accepted your responsibility, you are evidently remorseful, and you pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

The judge ordered the £5,000 being provided by Tomlinson’s father to be paid in compensation to Allen Ford by December 17, with the rest to be paid at £1,000 a month.

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