Jail for insurance worker who fiddled expenses

tis. Harrogate Magistrates Court. 311208ARpic3.
tis. Harrogate Magistrates Court. 311208ARpic3.

A RISING star in an insurance company, who fiddled his expenses to the tune of more than £11,000, had been jailed.

Harrogate magistrates heard how Axa Insurance executive Richard Walker’s two-year spree began by mistake and then ‘‘spiralled out of control’’.

When the 33-year-old father of two pleaded guilty to stealing £11,319.60 from his employers between September 2009 and August last year, prosecutor Katie Varlow said his crime had come to light during a company investigation into personal expenses claims.

Mrs Varlow said Walker, of Allotment Gardens, Harrogate, had submitted a number of false claims for travel expenses and added: ‘‘They have all been paid and they should not have been.’’

Walker’s offence had been a straight-forward one, aggravated by the high value of his theft and the lengthy period over which it had occurred. He had made a full and frank admission when tackled by company investigators and the police.

In mitigation, Christopher Newton said Walker, who had repaid the stolen cash with £4,000 on top to fund Axa’s investigation, had run operational support teams, with over 100 staff reporting to him.

Mr Newton said Walker had begun his spree by mistake. He had claimed travel expenses after the company had bought his tickets and it had not been picked up.

Then it spiralled out of control. ‘‘To have extra money was nice,’’ said Mr Newton. ‘‘It almost became routine. He was doing it without thinking about it.’’

Now Walker, who had been a rising star in the company and had been sent on executive leadership programmes, knew he would never work in the financial services field again.

Mr Newton suggested a community sentence rather than a spell behind bars was appropriate for a man who had not stolen out of need and who was now filled with remorse.

Walker was terrified of a custodial sentence which would cost him his new job helping to develop business with a small management company.

But court chairman Dr John Garraway told Walker he was guilty of a serious breach of trust and jailed him for 12 weeks.