A business has been left ‘struggling to repay’ more than £14,000 that was stolen by an employee.
Dependable Limited, a property management and gardening company based in Chippenham, was defrauded by Wesley Butler – who admitted his crimes at Swindon Magistrates’ Court.
The 36-year-old – who has a previous caution for theft by employee dating back to 2011 – used the firm’s company credit card to buy expensive items that he later sold on Facebook.
Director Ben Head’s suspicions arose when a mobile phone went missing from the office in February 2022 and Bulter failed to return to work the following day, claiming he had mental health issues.
Prosecutor Pauline Lambert said that the defendant, of Westminster Gardens, went on to post numerous items – including a cordless pruner – for sale on Facebook Marketplace.
When Mr Head checked the items against the missing receipts, he found they were the same. When he checked with John Miller, a garden equipment store, he was able to confirm that products were ordered and sent to a private address, not the address of Dependable.
He found inconsistencies – with purchases made at Whitehall Garden Centre, Halfords, B&M, machinery companies, car service centres and many others on dates between 2019 between 2022.
The total amount stolen was £14,489.91, an amount that had a “massive” impact on the firm. Mr Head, in a victim impact statement, said he had to take a second job to repay the credit card debt. He said it had had a significant impact on his family as he was working non-stop.
Mr Head added that he has lost customers because they do not trust the company anymore and that Bulter’s crimes have ruined his business. He said he also struggles to trust other employees.
Richard Williams, defending, said his client was suffering from depression and anxiety, for which he is now medicated but wasn’t at the time of the offending.
He told the court that Bulter has found alternative employment after being fired from Dependable – it’s claimed he is the breadwinner and financial supporter of two young children who live with their mother after a relationship breakdown.
Mr Williams said that he’d purchased a pushbike for his daughter and fixed his car with the proceeds of his fraud. Adding that they were “not luxuries but not necessities either”.
Magistrates handed Butler a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 24 months. He must complete 150 hours of unpaid work and repay £14,489.91. He was also ordered to complete 20 days of rehabilitation activity, pay £85 prosecution costs and a £149 surcharge.
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