Man raided tens of thousands of pounds from Redcar and Cleveland College accounts to pay gambling debts (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Man raided tens of thousands of pounds from Redcar and Cleveland College accounts to pay gambling debts
A RESPECTED finance clerk drained a college's accounts of more than £60,000 in order to cover his gambling debts, a court heard.
Tony Metcalfe, 53, had worked as a senior financial assistant at Redcar and Cleveland College, in Redcar, east Cleveland, for 15 years and had an umblemished record.
But in February this year, after an attempt to take his life, he walked into a police station to admit stealing tens of thousands of pounds from the further education college's accounts, saying he wanted to be arrested and dealt with.
Inquiries began and it was discovered that £62,675 had been taken between May 8, 2012 and February 27 this year as a result of up to 20 separate fraudulent transactions.
David Crook, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said Metcalfe had created duplicate invoice entries when sanctioning payments by the college. This meant he was able to make payments to himself as well as the legitimate beneficiary.
The defendant also helped himself to petty cash, which he was responsible for.
Mr Crook said that the fraud was professionally planned and involved the breach of a high degree of trust which the college had placed in Metcalfe, whose responsibilities involved making payments and maintaining financial records.
Metcalfe, of Coach Road, Brotton, east Cleveland, admitted two counts of fraud. He was said to be in ill health, suffering from Chrohn's Disease, chronic arthritis and kidney disease.
He had also lost his father and sister within a year of each other.
His barrister Rachel Dyson said Metcalfe had started gambling in 2001 and had built up a significant debt. But having got it under control as a result of agreements with creditors, what she called “fundamental personal tragedies” had seen him return to heavy gambling, which in turn spurred the offending.
She said he had showed remorse and regret.
Sentencing him, Judge Gillian Matthews said: “This was a shameful breach of trust which your employer put in you to handle their money and no doubt it had significant financial implications for the college.”
Judge Matthews suspended a two year jail sentence on him for two years. She said he would be supervised for 12 months and also do 100 hours unpaid work in the community.
The prosecution successfully sought an order which will mean Metcalfe has to pay back a nominal sum of £1 from his criminal gains, which will enable the Crown to seize further amounts from him should they become available.
Gary Groom, principal of Redcar & Cleveland College, said: "We have worked closely with Cleveland Police on the investigation and are satisfied the matter has now been concluded.
"We are, however, extremely disappointed that a member of staff who was entrusted with a very responsible role and level of accountability let us down in this way."