Thief stole £200k from firm through ‘systematic, deliberate and cynical’ fraud

A trusted manager of a family-run firm swindled almost £200,000 from the company.

Philip Mileham abused his position in the company to order goods from their suppliers and then sold them on privately, using his knowledge of the firm’s systems to cover his tracks.

The 43-year-old bragged to his colleagues about the extravagant lifestyle he was leading which he funded by stealing from their employers, Wales Online reports.

Sending the 43-year-old to prison, a judge said he was guilty of “systematically, deliberately and cynically” defrauding the firm.

Mileham worked as installations manager at Westward Energy Services Ltd in Pontardawe – a family-run firm which offers heating services to domestic customers, local councils, and housing associations – and was a trusted member of staff, Swansea Crown Court was told.

Ian Wright, prosecuting, said the first indication the company had that something was wrong came in June 2019 when a query was raised about why a domestic heating boiler ordered from a supplier was being delivered to the defendant’s house rather than to the firm’s depot or a client.

An internal investigation was launched, and the full scale of Mileham’s scamming was revealed.

The court heard it emerged that over the previous three years Mileham had ordered a total of 307 heating boilers from the company’s supplier and then sold them on privately, keeping the money for himself. Mr Wright said the defendant used “a variety of means” to cover his tracks, meaning the movements of the boilers was not spotted. The total loss to Westward was £196,158.

A disciplinary hearing was held on July 5 which Mileham chose not to attend, and afterwards he was dismissed in his absence for gross misconduct.

The court heard the firm was only able to recover £100,000 from their insurers, and had been left significantly out of pocket as a result of the fraud. In an impact statement from the managing director of Westward which was read to court he said he was “shocked and disappointed” that someone he regarded as a friend had behaved in such a way. He said the firm’s finances had suffered as a result of the fraud, and at one stage there was talk of letting some members of staff go.

Mileham was arrested at his home in Porthcawl on July 30 and gave a “no comment” interview to officers. He also refused to provide a sample of his handwriting for comparisons to be made with documents, and refused to give police the PIN for his phone.

Philip James Mileham, of Lime Tree Way, Newton, Porthcawl, had previously pleaded guilty to one count of fraud when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

Christopher Rees, for Mileham, said the defendant’s father had worked for the firm before him, and it had to be accepted there was a “long-standing” relationship of trust. He said his client had got into financial difficulties following his divorce, and had begun drinking heavily – these things together, he said, had driven the offending. The barrister said references handed to the court showed a very different side to the defendant’s personality, and he said Mileham was “burning with shame” at what he had done.

Judge Paul Thomas QC told Mileham he had been in a position of trust when he “systematically, deliberately and, I have to say, cynically” defrauded the firm. He described the fraud as “elaborate and brazen”, and said while the defendant’s divorce may have played a part in the offending, he suspected the greater part was played by greed. The judge said the defendant was clearly a business-savvy man, and would have know his actions were putting the jobs of those he worked with at risk – even as he was boasting to those same people about his lifestyle.

Giving the defendant a one-third discount for his guilty plea the judge sentenced Mileham to three years in prison. The defendant will serve up to half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

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