Cannock accountant who stole from employers ordered to pay back £54,000
A Cannock chartered accountant who systematically stole £86,000 from a family-owned group of companies where he worked has been ordered to pay back almost £54,000.
Karl Bourne had abused his high position of trust as chief financial controller with Kingsbury Jig and Tool Group Ltd to steal from the firm over a nine-year period.
Bourne, 58, of Brisbane Way, in Cannock, was jailed for three years earlier this year after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to charges of fraud, false accounting and theft. But a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act was adjourned for an investigation into his finances.
And at the resumed hearing prosecutor Sophie Murray said Bourne’s benefit from his illegal activity was £53,993 – and his assets, including his home, far exceeded that at £425,000.
Judge Anthony Potter ordered £53,993 to be confiscated from him and used to pay compensation to Kingsbury Jig and Tool – with Bourne facing a further 12 months in jail if it is not paid within three months.
When Bourne was sentenced, Miss Murray said Kingsbury Jig and Tool was a ‘very cash-rich’ group of companies which produces bespoke precision engineering machinery.
Bourne had been chief financial controller with the group, based near Sutton Coldfield, for almost 20 years before he was dismissed in 2016 over irregularities.
Following his departure it was discovered that quite significant sums of money had gone missing – but because he had taken memory sticks containing the financial records with him, it was difficult to work out the extent of his dishonesty.
She said: “The deception, which had gone on for many years, was compounded by the way he had kept the books in such a fashion that no-one could really make head nor tail of what was going on.”
So the then company secretary Michael Hedley had to trawl through paper copies of transactions to try to get to the bottom of what Bourne had been doing. And the company had to engage solicitors and forensic accountants at a cost of £24,000 to work it all out.
It emerged that Bourne’s dishonesty had begun in 2007 with him submitting expenses claims twice on 183 occasions over a period of four years, covering it up in the petty cash book.
He then started issuing cheques from subsidiary companies to cover him taking a total of £60,326 from the group’s petty cash funds between then and his dismissal.
The third method he employed was to issue cheques made out to cash, including one for £8,887 from GT3 Racing Ltd and another for £5,200 from Forge Engineering Ltd.
When he was arrested, a staggering £27,414 in cash was found stashed at his home, which has already been returned to the company.
Miss Murray added that when he was interviewed Bourne had tried to put the blame on one of the group’s directors, claiming he had been asked to keep the cash at his home as ‘a slush fund.’
He accepted there had been ‘anomalies,’ but claimed they had happened innocently and that he would have repaid the money.
Judge Potter described Bourne as ‘a thoroughly dishonest man who demonstrated his cynical disregard for those he had worked with for many years when he systematically stole from them.’
He told Bourne: “For almost half of the time you were employed by the company, you were effectively being paid to steal from it, and the indictment spans a nine-year period.
“You knew it would be very difficult to question you and to actually work out what you had done, and you made it harder because when you were suspended, you took with you the records which might have been used to investigate what you had done.
“This is a fraud perpetrated for your own greed. It was a high abuse of trust, perpetrated for a period of nine years. Mercifully the company was not put at risk by what you did.”