£14,000 fraud paid for drug rehab

PUBLISHED: 12:49 24 August 2006 | UPDATED: 10:45 06 May 2010

A DIRECTOR who embezzled his company out of £14,000 to pay for his partner s drug rehabilitation treatment has been handed a suspended prison sentence. Shaun Goodliffe, a production director for Benchmark Fabrications Ltd on Jubilee Road, Letchworth GC, w

A DIRECTOR who embezzled his company out of £14,000 to pay for his partner's drug rehabilitation treatment has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Shaun Goodliffe, a production director for Benchmark Fabrications Ltd on Jubilee Road, Letchworth GC, was given eight months imprisonment suspended for 18 months with supervision, after pleading guilty to eight charges of false accounting between September and December 2005.

He appeared at Luton Crown Court last Thursday.

Goodliffe's plan had been to raise fictitious invoices for goods to be supplied, which he would pay, and the recipient would give him two thirds of the money back and keep a third.

The money was used to pay for the rehabilitation of Goodliffe's partner and, although the treatment worked, it left him on the brink of a prison sentence and still heavily in debt, the court heard.

But Goodliffe, 38, of Southbridge Street, Shefford, was shown mercy by a judge who said he was suspending the inevitable custodial sentence.

Nicholas Lobbenberg, prosecuting, said the dishonesty came to light during an audit, because the invoices appeared unusual in that they were always for round figures. Goodliffe was confronted and confessed.

Mr Lobbenberg said the fraud had had a very severe effect on the company. "It has caused massive hardship and stress for the company, who had to find new bankers," he said.

Stephen Sweeney, defending, said Goodliffe's partner had been addicted to heroin and crack cocaine for many years and for four months last year she went to a residential rehabilitation unit in Hastings, which cost him £15,000.

He also had spent significant sums on internet gambling.

His partner has remained free of drugs since her release, but they still had extreme financial problems, which he was trying to deal with by working seven days a week as a shop fitter.

Prison would create many more problems for the family, said the barrister.

Judge Jeffrey Burke QC said: "You were employed in a position of trust earning good money, but I accept you run up an enormous debt for a very good reason. That does not provide an excuse for what you did.

"Those in debt have no right to resort to serious financial crime. What you did damaged the company and they are entitled to be desperately aggrieved."

Jonathon Fraser, a representative of the company, was at court but was refused permission to make a victim personal statement to the court.


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