Employee steals £42k of stock from Spalding company to feed gambling addiction

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A trusted worker at an electrical wholesale company stole thousands of pounds worth of stock to fund his gambling addiction, Lincoln Crown Court was told today.

Gavin Phillips set up an eBay account which he used to sell the firm’s stock and then falsified documentation to cover-up what he was doing.

Brian Outhwaite, prosecuting, said that Phillips stole £42,000 worth of stock from Edmundson electrical wholesales in Elsom Way, Spalding, where he worked as an inventory controller.

Phillips ordered items for the company as part of his job but used his own eBay account to sell some of the stock. The items were then couriered to the purchasers at the expense of Edmundson’s.

The thefts were carried out over a three year period before they came to light in April 2016 when a stock check revealed a large amount of losses.

Mr Outhwaite told the court: “He was a trusted member of staff and was held in high regard.

“His job was to purchase electrical items on a day to day basis which the company would sell on to businesses in the area.

“It became known to the owner that the defendant was selling items on eBay that were of the type that was sold in the course of their business.

“He was questioned by the company about his activity. He denied any wrong doing but was suspended pending further inquiries.

“As the inquiries continued it became apparent that the items being sold on eBay matched precisely the items that the company sold.

“They contacted the police. When the defendant was interviewed he admitted he had been selling items on eBay in the course of stealing from the company.

“The loss to the company was in the region of £42,000. He says his gain was £21,000 on eBay plus a small amount of cash sales.”

Phillips, 33, of The Brambles, Holbeach, admitted a charge of theft. He was jailed for 10 months.

Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, told him: “The total loss to this company has been substantial.

“There was plainly a breach of trust and there was plainly a degree of sophistication. Effectively you were stealing to order and falsifying documents.

“This type of offending involving this amount means that only a custodial sentence can be passed.”

Elizabeth Evans, in mitigation, said Phillips began stealing at a time when he was engaged to his then partner and they were planning their wedding.

Miss Evans urged that Phillips should receive a suspended jail sentence and told the court: “He became addicted to gambling. That was taking a great deal of his money. In one year his losses were £30,000.

“He didn’t have the heart to tell his wife to be. He was plagued by his addiction and so he made this terrible mistake to steal from his employers.

“He is now regularly attending Gamblers’ Anonymous. He is now in a position where he is not gambling.

“He has a new partner and he has a newly-born son. He is now a responsible employee with a new firm.”