Plumbing firm manager, 55, who stole almost £80,000 worth of stock from work then sold it on his wife’s eBay account is jailed for two years
- Andrew Clarke stole taps, showers and boilers from under his bosses’ noses
- He then offered them for sale at 25% off the RRP on the online auction site
- Wife Joanne was accused of money laundering but later cleared of wrongdoing
- Clarke admitted theft by employee, possessing the proceeds of criminal conduct
A plumbing firm manager who plundered almost £80,000 worth of stock from work, then sold it on his unsuspecting wife’s eBay account has been jailed for two years.
Andrew Clarke, 55, stole taps, showers and boilers from under the noses of his bosses and then offered them for sale on the online auction site at 25% off the recommended retail price.
The father of two, who had mortgage arrears, would turn off the company CCTV once his colleagues had gone home for the night and take items from the Manchester branch of Crossling and Co plumbing and pipeline merchants, where he had worked for 32 years.
He was caught after a director at the firm, who was tipped off about the thefts by a former worker, began playing back the security tapes which showed Clarke switching off the cameras and then turning them back on as he left the store.
Investigations revealed 160 items worth £77,803.35 had been looted by Clarke over a five-year period.
Andrew Clarke, 55, stole taps, showers and boilers from under the noses of his bosses and then offered them for sale on the online auction site at 25% off the recommended retail price
His work email address was found to be linked to an eBay account run by his wife Joanne which showed the stolen items had been sold on the auction site netting a total of £58,912.40 and the money transferred into Mrs Clarke’s Paypal account.
The couple, who live a £350,000 bungalow in the village of Rainford near St Helens, Merseyside, were charged in connection with the thefts but Mrs Clarke, 44, who was accused of money laundering was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Clarke admitted theft by employee and possessing the proceeds of criminal conduct.
Judge Patrick Field QC told him: ‘This case represents a personal tragedy for you. You are a 55-year-old family man and until your guilty plea you were a man of good character.
‘For some reason you succumbed to the temptation to steal stock from your employers and sell it on eBay. I suspect when you discovered how easy it was you took the opportunity to do it again and again and again.
‘It probably became a habit which was enjoyable for you as you were able to sell stolen stock online and improve your financial position.
‘A great deal of trust was placed in you, but your criminality breached that trust. I accept you were under stress and pressure at work to perform. I accept that may in some way explain what was otherwise inexplicable behaviour, but it is no excuse for what you did.’
In mitigation Clarke’s lawyer Alistair Reid said: ‘This was a pattern of offending during which he stole from his employers for five years, and he struggles to explain why he fell into this pattern.
Clarke’s work email address was found to be linked to an eBay account run by his wife Joanne, pictured together, which showed the stolen items had been sold on the auction site netting a total of £58,912.40 and the money transferred into Mrs Clarke’s Paypal account. Mrs Clarke, 44, was initially accused of money laundering was later cleared of any wrongdoing
‘He had mental health problems and had previously been told by his GP to change job or have a break from it, but unusually out of a sense of commitment and loyalty, he struggled through.
‘He says when new directors took over the company, the ethos changed, and he says he was trying to keep up. He was dealing with the day-to-day running of the branch and says the pressure to find more customers was increasing.
‘He says he was told to ‘push’ customers one week and not to the next. He has numerous issues with poor money management and has been making certain transactions beyond his means.’
Mr Reid added: ‘He has shown genuine remorse and shame for his actions. He has mortgage arrears which he is working to repay and is unable to work at the moment. He is a full-time carer for his father and it is he would suffer for the defendant’s actions if he were sent to prison.’
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will take place on April 9.
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