Crooked finance boss stole £60K from an Okehampton hotel, then took £19,000 redundancy
A crooked finance manager stole £62,000 from a luxury Dartmoor hotel near Okehampton and then negotiated an £19,000 redundancy package so he could get out undetected.
Alex Stevens was a senior manager at the Manor House Hotel at Fowley Cross near Okehampton and used his company credit card to withdraw thousands of pounds from cashpoints and pay his personal shopping bills.
He had been at the hotel for more than 20 years and was trusted so much that nobody noticed his looting until after he had gone.
The company runs an employee share scheme so Stevens was swindling all his workmates on each of the 299 occasions he misused the credit card.
He used it to pay for his weekly supermarket shop and £1,230 council tax, spent £1,499 on private teeth straightening treatment, paid off a £1,521 Argos debt and paid for a £1.500 course to train as a driving instructor.
He put his family’s subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon Prime on the card and spent £160 on a school trip for his daughter.
Stevens hid some of his purchases be making them look as if they were for materials used by crafts courses run at the hotel.
He was so brazen that during lockdown he attended socially distanced business meetings in the garden of the hotel in which he estimated the business’s chances of survival at only 50-50. He then went away and used the card to steal £900 in May 2020 alone.
Four months later in September 2020 he took a £19,158 redundancy package and left to become a prison officer, a job he only held for a few weeks before his fraud was uncovered.
Stevens, aged 43, of Bouchers Hill, North Tawton, admitted fraud and his sentence at Exeter Crown Court was adjourned by Judge David Evans to allow him time to produce evidence about what he did with the money.
The judge set a timetable for a financial investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act despite being told Stevens has no available assets.
He told him a jail sentence is likely and said: “It looks as if he has been able to clear all his debts and so he is all right, as a result of his dishonesty.
“He retrained and got a job as a prison officer, knowing he would not have got it if they knew he was a fraudster. What I am hearing about is a dishonest man who tried to cover his tracks while keeping quiet and taking redundancy.
“He has never apologised and there is not a penny for compensation because he has spent it all. Now he wants to avoid immediate custody because it will have an impact on his future.
“The picture I get is of somebody who was blithely happy to take money even as the company suffered during lockdown. Admitting it when you are caught is a different thing from admitting it at the time.”
Mr Sam Wysocki, prosecuting, said Stevens joined the hotel in 1999 and was accounts and finance manager until he took redundancy. He stole a total of £62,155.86 and received £19,158.20 in redundancy or the sale of his employee shares.
He said: “The business is 49 per cent owned by its employees so his actions harmed all of them. He was in a position of ultimate trust and betrayed it.”
He got the card in 2018 and used it dishonestly right up to the time of his redundancy.
Mr Will Willden, defending, said Stevens had been an honest and hardworking family man until he was overwhelmed by debts and began acting out of character.
He said he and his young family have been ‘living under the sword of Damocles’ for 13 months since his arrest.
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