A trusted employee from Hucknall stole more than £40,000 from an Annesley-based international company to fund his “millionaire’s lifestyle” of drugs and gambling.
Jonathan Sherriff, 39, of Versailles Gardens, committed about 300 acts of fraud over a sustained period of more than four years, Nottingham Crown Court heard.
Sherriff, who worked for Tsubakimoto UK Ltd at the Sherwood Business Park, was sent to prison for 21 months by Judge Michael Stokes QC.
The court was told that he got away with his crimes for so long because the firm considered him to be a “well-liked, genuine family guy” who could be relied upon.
But in reality, he was splashing £300 a week on cocaine and £200 a week on gambling, and was riddled with debts. So he concocted a scam to con Tsubakimoto out of the money he needed.
When his fraud was finally exposed, Sherriff said: “I was living a millionaire’s lifestyle on a benefit allowances’ income”.
Sherriff, who is well known in local football circles in Hucknall and played for Hucknall Rolls Leisure, as well as Sunday sides, pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud involving a total of £40,676.38 between August 2010 and November 2014.
Jonathan Dee, prosecuting, explained that Sherriff was employed “in a senior position within the logistics department” of Tsubakimoto, which is a Japanese company that manufactures parts for the automotive industry across the world.
“He was responsible for the shipping of orders using courier drivers,” Mr Dee told the court. “He was entitled to use company funds and petty cash to pay these drivers.
“However, he exploited a weakness in the system, and came up with an unsophisticated plan to steal.
“He created false invoices from courier companies, using Tipp-Ex and photocopiers, and presented them to sales ledger staff, asking them to pay bogus drivers.
“The invoices were for between £75 and £155 each time. The staff gave him the money from petty cash, but he pocketed it.”
Mr Dee said the scam was not spotted by the company’s auditors and only came to light in 2014 when Sherriff had to take time off work because of “serious personal difficulties”.
It was noticed that his temporary replacement did not present the same invoices. Yet when Sherriff returned, the requests started again.
When Tsubakimoto decided to set up a genuine account for one of the courier companies supposedly involved, it revealed it had never carried out work for Tsubakimoto.
Towards the end of 2014, the company ordered an investigation by external auditors that lasted two months. The manager of the sales ledger department, who had regarded Sherriff as a close friend, was even suspended, putting severe strain on her marriage.
Eventually, Sherriff was interviewed and he made full admissions to the company, accepting that it had been “disgraceful behaviour”. Tsubakimoto, whom he accepted “had been so good to me”, was left with no choice no choice but to sack him and report him to the police.
FRAUDSTER Jonathan Sherriff’s fall from grace was described at Nottingham Crown Court as “a rather pathetic story of dishonesty over a lengthy period”.
William Bennett, mitigating, said: “He led a law-abiding life from his 20s. He was hard-working, settled down and had a 15-year relationship with his partner. They had a daughter.
“But then, in his early 30s, he started to mix with other individuals and lead a hedonistic lifestyle. He developed underlying drugs and gambling problems that put stress and pressure on his relationship, which ended when the fraud was discovered. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Mr Bennett said Sherriff, who has no previous convictions, offered no excuses for his crimes but, to his credit, he had tried to get on with his life and had received counselling.
“He has not taken drugs or gambled since the fraud came to light,” said the barrister. “He has got another job and is servicing his debts. He is living at his sister’s house and stays in watching TV.
“He felt wretched when he had to tell his daughter what he had done and what would happen to him.
“He has shown real remorse and is determined to deal with his problems.”
Judge Stokes told Sherriff: “This started off as something small, but you got away with it, so you did it again, and again.”