Father-of-two who stole £40,000 from his employer to fund his secret ‘addition’ to call girls is jailed

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A business executive who stole £40,000 from his employers to fund cocaine-fueled encounters with escorts following the breakdown of his marriage has been jailed.

George Smith, 33, worked for Cheshire-based Bromborough Paints – now known as Paintwell – when he committed the offence, a court heard.

The father-of-two, who earned £27,000 a year as a branch manager, was caught selling pots of paint and rolls of wallpaper to traders for cash before calling off the transaction and pocket the money for himself.

His offense was uncovered when the company conducted an audit and, when police later checked his bank statements, they found that Smith had been making regular purchases at grocery stores, nightclubs and hotels.

When confronted about his business, Smith said he wasted all the money he stole because he became “addicted to alcohol, cocaine and prostitution”.

At Manchester Crown Court, Smith, of Winnington, Northwich, admitted the theft by an employee and was jailed for 21 months.

Afterwards, Giuseppe Alfonso, chief financial officer of Paintwell, described Smith’s breach as “incredibly shocking”.

George Smith (pictured), a former branch manager of a paint company, was jailed for 21 months after acknowledging the theft by an employee

Manchester Crown Court heard Smith was appointed branch manager of Bromborough Paint at Trafford Park in September 2016 before the flights began in January 2018.

Manchester Crown Court heard Smith was appointed branch manager of Bromborough Paint at Trafford Park in September 2016 before the flights began in January 2018.

Manchester Crown Court heard the thefts began in January 2018 after Smith was appointed branch manager at Trafford Park near Manchester in September 2016.

Rachel Widdecombe, prosecuting, said Smith’s breach only came to light in May 2019 when Mr Alfonso undertook an audit and noticed stock adjustments were being made “for an unusually large amount”.

Mr Alfonso discovered that all the erroneous adjustments had been made by the defendant, Ms Widdecombe told the court, and arranged a meeting with Smith to discuss the discrepancies in which he accepted he was responsible and “had put in a rut”.

Ms Widdecombe added: ‘[Smith] went on to say he was glad he was caught as it would end his offense.

“He told Mr Alfonso he had been stealing paint on commission since before March 2018 and suggested he had developed addictions to alcohol, drugs and prostitution. He did not say whether it was an addiction that only developed after he was hired as a branch manager.

“The defendant’s bank statements indicated that he was far from in debt.

“In fact, he chose to make many cash withdrawals and regular purchases in restaurants or food outlets, night clubs, hotels often making several purchases at the same place during the same daytime.

“His wages from the company were paid into this account with no obvious reference to expenses such as rent or mortgage.

‘The vast majority of the £40,000 or so he agrees to have stolen cannot be traced.’

After the meeting, Smith was suspended, but when questioned by police, he made no comment and said he had no idea why he was suspended, said the tribunal.

Mr Alfonso found that in the 17 months Smith stole from the business, 4,813 items, including paint and wallpaper, went missing, the court heard.

Manchester Crown Court was told that when the trader entered the store and purchased items, Smith would offer a cash price without VAT and then reverse the sale, reversing the transaction. This meant that the stolen painting would then not appear as sold in the company’s records.

In mitigation, defense barrister Mr Simeon Evans said: ‘[Smith] was unfortunately not the only person who robbed the company in this way. In fact, shortly after this accused was arrested, another staff member was detected.

“However, he accepts that he took £40,000 for himself and he is ashamed of his offence.

“He wasn’t asking for that money because he was in debt, he actually squandered it in the way that has come to light, having felt the pressure of his marriage breakdown that a lot of people have to go through.

“He is a man of good character who had invested in his marriage and his children, but the end of the marriage was the fault line that triggered this. There was a history of alcohol and other substance abuse which played a significant role in this offence.

“It was a huge shock to his family and they struggled with it. They do not tolerate it but support it. His shame is going to be very public indeed.

Smith, who earned £27,000 a year as a branch manager, was found selling pots of paint and rolls of wallpaper to shopkeepers for cash before pocketing the money for him -same.

Smith, who earned £27,000 a year as a branch manager, was found selling pots of paint and rolls of wallpaper to shopkeepers for cash before pocketing the money for him -same.

Sentencing Smith, Judge Hilary Manley told him: ‘You stole shares and sold them to customers at a discount to keep the money for yourself. You spent the money on meals in restaurants, prostitutes and cocaine and it was all gone.

“The difficulties in your marriage may well cause you anguish and stress, but that is no excuse for this behavior.

“It’s not even like you’re in poverty or debt, you’re living a life high on product and a high degree of trust and responsibility placed in you. This theft lasted a long time for what was a totally selfish lifestyle.

In a statement, Mr Alfonso said: “This theft has shaken our business. The amount and volume that had been moved by Smith was incredibly shocking.

‘I have previously considered Smith a friend, not just a co-worker and am appalled at the lack of integrity and respect shown – and still cannot understand the level of dishonesty he has shown in his shares. Personally, I was left in tears when I found out that I trusted George.

“I actually broke down on questioning him when he admitted his guilt. He had supported me at charity events and he could clearly see that he had upset me.

“He also asked me to take him home and explain the thefts to his mother and brother and I had to tell them that George had been caught stealing. Her mother was upset at the time.

At Manchester Crown Court, Smith, of Winnington, Northwich, admitted the theft by an employee and was jailed for 21 months

At Manchester Crown Court, Smith, of Winnington, Northwich, admitted the theft by an employee and was jailed for 21 months

Mr Alfonso added: “As with all processes in business, systems are in place to ensure no theft occurs.

“However, a small number of employees take it upon themselves and abuse the position given to them, not only to steal from their employer, but also from the colleagues they work with, day in and day out.

“This then had a ripple effect on every single employee – trust was well and truly broken and as such we as a business had to restrict our employees’ access to certain systems, in order to to ensure that this does not happen again. This is at odds with the way this company is run as it creates an environment of mistrust towards the many innocent people who work for the company.

“It impacted every employee as we had to look to protect our interests and as such we had to limit monetary bonuses to everyone.

“As a financial director, I found myself becoming an ad hoc detective since this incident. It caused me undue stress.

“Smith, when he was fired, said he stole the items to pay for a drug and sex worker habit he fell into following the breakdown of his marriage.

“I was going through my own breakup at the time and found Smith’s actions appalling, that he decided to be deceitful and dishonest to those who supported him through his difficult times.”

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