‘HE NEARLY RU­INED US’

How this ‘trusted worker’ used eBay to steal al­most £40,000 from the cou­ple who gave him a job:

Wales On Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - MAR­CUS HUGHES Re­porter mar­cus.hughes@waleson­line.co.uk

THE owner of a small fam­ily busi­ness says she wasn’t sure whether the firm would sur­vive af­ter an em­ployee who they trusted “im­plic­itly” stole nearly £40,000 to fund his gam­bling ad­dic­tion.

David Clark, of Foundry Road in Abersy­chan, Pon­ty­pool, si­phoned off prof­its to­talling £39,688.29 from GW In­te­ri­ors in Tre­for­est over a pe­riod of two years.

The 30-year-old, who was em­ployed at the fam­ily run kitchen and bath­room sup­plier from 2007 to 2014, was sen­tenced to 18 months in prison at Cardiff Crown Court on Fri­day.

Fol­low­ing the sen­tenc­ing, Linda Wat­son, 64, who owns GW In­te­ri­ors with her hus­band Gareth, 66, spoke about how Clark’s ac­tions left his col­leagues feel­ing be­trayed, how they weren’t sure whether the busi­ness could sur­vive and how they had even made plans for Clark to take over Linda’s part of the busi­ness fol­low­ing her re­tire­ment.

“We trusted him im­plic­itly to do the job and we be­came quite friendly with him,” Linda, of Tre­har­ris, said.

“His col­leagues felt be­trayed but also they felt, like we all did, a bit stupid that they al­lowed it to hap­pen.”

She added: “We weren’t sure whether we were go­ing to sur­vive it, but we de­cided we were go­ing to fight it all the way.”

The court heard Clark had helped Linda and Gareth de­velop their on­line pres­ence by help­ing them set up an eBay ac­count.

Money from eBay sales would ini­tially be paid into Clark’s per­sonal PayPal ac­count. He was sup­posed to trans­fer that cash into the com­pany ac­count but the court heard he started mak­ing “se­cret sales” and pock­et­ing the prof­its.

Pros­e­cu­tor Matthew Roberts said he did not log all the sales on the com­pany sys­tem so no-one else knew they were be­ing made.

Pros­e­cu­tors said Clark was an “avid gam­bler” who al­ways had a Sky Bet tab open on his com­puter – some­thing Linda said she hadn’t been aware of.

She said she only be­came aware of the de­cep­tion af­ter he left the com­pany.

“The first time I be­came aware of it was when a cus­tomer com­plained about a faulty prod­uct and we couldn’t find him on the sys­tem at all,” she said.

“That’s when we started in­ves­ti­gat­ing what had been go­ing on. It was dev­as­tat­ing be­cause we had no idea how long he had been do­ing it for.”

Speak­ing about Clark’s em­ploy­ment, Linda said: “He was a re­ally good worker in the begin­ning.”

She added: “It was only to­wards the end that we re­alised some­thing wasn’t right.”

Speak­ing about the plans for Clark to take over her part of the busi­ness af­ter her re­tire­ment, she said: “The op­por­tu­ni­ties were there for him but he threw it all away.”

Clark ini­tially de­nied theft but changed his plea be­fore his trial was due to start.

Jonathan Rees, de­fend­ing, said his client had no pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions.

He ar­gued the of­fend­ing was not so­phis­ti­cated, adding: “He suc­cumbed to temp­ta­tion.”

The de­fence bar­ris­ter told the court the of­fend­ing was out of char­ac­ter and ex­plained his client had sought coun­selling for his gam­bling ad­dic­tion.

There will be a hear­ing un­der the Pro­ceeds of Crime Act.

David Clark has been jailed for steal­ing al­most £40,000 from his em­ployer GW In­te­ri­ors

GOOGLE EARTH

GW In­te­ri­ors is based at The Taff Busi­ness Cen­tre in Tre­for­est

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