Two years in jail for ‘remorseful’ finance chief who stole more than £195,000 from Fenland company

Robert Wilson.

Robert Wilson. - Credit: Archant

A SHAMED financial controller who stole more than £195,000 from a Fenland company to fund his cocaine and alcohol addiction has been jailed for two years.

Father of two Robert Wilson, 33, of Bronze Street, March, appeared at Peterborough Crown Court after admitting theft at a previous hearing. His barrister told the court Wilson apologised and was full of remorse.

Recorder John Bate-Williams told the court the amount of money stolen, £195,719.53, and the way in which he had abused the trust of his bosses was “breath-taking.”

Wilson drip fed money into his own bank account for more than five years in 144 separate transactions from his employers, S&W Engineering, of Longhill Road, March, the court heard.

Recorder Bate-Williams said Wilson’s level of dishonesty and greed led to a terrible public downfall and added: “This was not a moment of madness it was a sustained series of thefts.”

It was “incredulous” that Wilson claimed to have given up cocaine and alcohol addictions without any formal drug rehabilitation programmes instead telling the court that he was now clean thanks to Narcotics Anonymous.

The offences took place when he was the firm’s chief financial controller on a wage of £25,000 a year.

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Wilson had not lived a luxury high life with expensive accessories, the court heard, instead every single penny had “gone up his nose” or been spent on alcohol while he drove around in a W reg Ford Mondeo.

Company director Graham Whyles said after the hearing: “The sentence was lenient it just doesn’t give the correct impression because it says it is OK to steal nearly £200,000 for two years in prison - a year if he behaves - that’s not a bad income.”

Company director Diane Nunn added: “It has been difficult for us all but with the good will of our workforce we will carry on.”

Wilson began stealing just a few months after joining the company in February 2007.

He had just been through a divorce and was struggling with life after losing his wife and home, and only seeing his boys at weekends, the court heard.

Wilson turned to cocaine and alcohol to cope, getting deeper into debt with his dealer, and resorted to siphoning off company funds at around £30,000 a year, in a bid to keep on top of his finances, the court heard.

The net began closing in on him in September 2012 when a quarterly audit took place at the firm and Mrs Nunn asked for two surprise transactions to be checked out.

Wilson heard the conversation and walked out saying he was suffering from stress.

In November, following internal investigations, S&W sent a letter to Wilson asking him to explain the disappearance of £13,000 to which Wilson replied by letter admitting he had done it to himself by mistake.

He promised to pay it back and urged them to not call police.

Two years before the offences came to light Mrs Nunn said Wilson had laughed in her face when she asked if he had a drug problem, her suspicions aroused by him often falling asleep at his desk by mid morning and disappearing for four-hour lunch breaks.

Wilson’s defence barrister Calvin Jackson said his client was previously an upstanding and respected member of the community who was once the treasurer of the March and District Angling Association.

Mr Jackson said: “Robert Wilson appears to be coping with this and the comment in his pre sentence report about his body language not being in sync with his emotions is not correct.

“ He is genuinely full of remorse – he gives his full apologies to his former employers - he is remorseful.”