A fraudster described as ‘deeply dishonest’ who lied about his girlfriend dying and having a heart attack before stealing nearly £30,000 from his bosses has been jailed.
Dad, Dean McCarthy, 32, was sentenced after exploiting his role as an account manager.
He had four client firms on his books as part of his role with Runcorn fire safety firm Abbey Fire, where he was taken on in July 2020.
But Paulinus Barnes, prosecuting at Chester Crown Court, said McCarthy’s deceit began even before he started work, having initially responded to a job advert in early 2020, only to then lie to the company and say his “girlfriend had died suddenly”.
When he did begin work, he claimed his car was stolen, and as a result he was given the use of a company car, fitted with a tracker to monitor its use, reports The Echo.
On November 26, 2020, I contacted company finance director Peter Robinson and claimed he “had been in hospital all night with a suspected mild heart attack”.
Company boss Paul Jones could see from the tracker the company car was on the move that morning, and when he went to McCarthy’s house he was greeted by his absent employee, who apologized for lying about the heart attack and said he was being “terrorized” by a man over his car.
The situation spiraled as the company finance team discovered “anomalies” relating to items billed as having been hired by McCarthy but which the firm “didn’t use or need” and which were not returned, to the tune of around £2,000.
When asked about it, McCarthy admitted being responsible, but told his bosses the last car he bought turned out to have been stolen and he had given the seller’s details to the police.
He claimed the seller was now “blackmailing him and telling him to hire items to wipe off the debt”, which stood at £910.
McCarthy of Nicholas Road, Widnes, seemed “genuinely upset” so Mr Jones transferred him the cash to pay off the supposed blackmailer.
The week after, bosses at Abbey Fire spotted more invoices for equipment that hadn’t been used or needed, and McCarthy had made nearly £500 in unauthorized purchases at B&Q and Argos.
Evidence of fraud mounted, as the company discovered McCarthy had made unauthorized equipment rentals from UPA in Warrington, Speedy Hire in Widnes, and Smiths Hire in Warrington, all billed to Abbey Fire and sister company Abbey Fencing.
Each time the goods were reportedly “lost” or “damaged beyond repair”.
The total value including replacement equipment was £28,694.29.
During McCarthy’s arrest at home, police seized an electric drill and a safety harness. In interview, he admitted he lied about his girlfriend dying.
He told Cheshire Police officers he owed cash to someone who was “threatening him” to pay off the debt by obtaining tools, and that he “had collected the tools from the hire companies and given them to this man”.
Police found the £910 donated to him by his boss had first gone into McCarthy’s account, then another account in his name, then to other accounts, none of which matched the name he claimed he owed money to.
Mr Barnes told the court McCarthy had no previous convictions but did have a caution for theft, later clarified as a theft from an employer by Judge Patrick Thompson.
A business impact statement from the company said Mr Jones and Mr Robinson spent 10 full days visiting clients to discuss what had been rented.
Mr Jones said the fraud had inflicted “massive strain” on the company and damaged trust in addition to the financial loss to the firm, which had a “great reputation in the trade sector and great relations with its customers”.
The company credit card was also cancelled.
McCarthy later pleaded guilty to nine counts of fraud by false representation.
The court was told the sentencing range was 18 months to four years with a starting point of three years.
Philip Tully, defending, said McCarthy deserved credit for his guilty pleas.
He noted the sum of £28,694.29 was near the bottom of the sentencing bracket, and said McCarthy had committed the crimes “at a very difficult time in his life and he was in a very difficult financial condition and concerned about providing for his family”.
Mr Tully said: “It’s my submission it’s something he deeply regrets and is also deeply ashamed of.”
He added the impact of the fraud on the company had been mainly “inconvenience”, prompting Judge Thompson to remark that the company had described the impact as “massive”.
Mr Tully said McCarthy’s partner was also pregnant and he was the financial provider for his family, including two children.
In addition, he said McCarthy had “done a great deal to rid himself of drug addiction and financial difficulties.”
He urged the judge to pass a suspended sentence with a view to pursuing a balance of punishment and rehabilitation in line with the pre-sentence report, and to take the extra hardship in prison due to Covid into account.
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Judge Thompson branded McCarthy a “deeply dishonest individual” and although he had read that the fraudster had “accrued a drug debt”, it was difficult to believe him.
Sending McCarthy down to serve a 21-month prison sentence immediately, Judge Thompson said: “It’s clear to me you are a deeply dishonest individual.
“I’ve read the pre-sentence report, I’ve read the reason is you say you accrued a drug debt. I don’t know whether they’re true or not.
“The reason is that’s what you told the probation officer.
“But first you lied about the death of your girlfriend, then you lied about having a heart attack, then you lied about owing an individual money for a car.”
Adding that McCarthy had “lied and lied”, Judge Thompson said: “This court can’t trust a word you’ve said because clearly you’ve lied repeatedly.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.