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Gloucestershire Business News

Former manager ordered to pay back almost £6k after defrauding Cheltenham business

A former branch manager of a Cheltenham scaffolding company has been ordered to pay back all the money he gained from fraudulently selling its scrap metal.

Robert Collins, 34, had been employed at MG Scaffolding in Cheltenham as a branch manager between September 16, 2017 and October 2018 and part of his role was to oversee the contracts manager, the yard manager and other staff.

Alec Daymond, prosecuting at Gloucester crown court yesterday (Sept 20) , explained that Collins' fraudulent activity came to light soon after he left the company and the value of metal that he sold without permission was calculated at just under £6,000.

"The amount of fraud was miniscule in comparison with the company's turnover - however it still detracted from the turnover," Mr Daymond said.

"The company generated very little scrap metal over the years and this consisted mainly of damaged scaffolding poles or ones that had been cut and no longer met regulations.

"During 2016 the company generated 780kg of scrap valued at £70, the following year it was 1,240kg which generated £119 and in 2019 the company scrapped metal that was valued at £700.

"The normal practice would have been that the metal would have been saved up and taken to scrap metal merchants when there was enough to transport.

"The fraudulent activity came to light after Collins had left the company on July 30, 2019 when the office manager overheard a conversation between the workmen that there was no need to collect a docket to take with him to the scrap metal merchants.

"The workman explained that he'd previously taken around 40 small amounts to the merchants, but there was never any paperwork involved.

"When the workman arrived at the merchants he was asked if the account details was still the same. However on investigation it turned out that these details were in fact the bank account belonging to Collins.

"The scrap metal merchants revealed that there had been 24 transactions between July 2017 and September 2018 that totalled 59,369kg for which Collins had received £5,840.20 into his bank account.

"He abused his position of being branch manager to dupe the scrap metal merchants into paying into his bank account. This was an abuse of trust which was sustained for a period of 18 months."

In his police interview Collins claimed that there was a 'gentlemen's agreement' to allow this to happen. The company denied this was the case. He later accepted that what he was doing was fraudulent.

Matthew Harbinson, defending, said: "When Collins arrived at the company he was proactive in cleaning up the yard. In doing so he collected up a lot of scrap metal.

"He said most of the metal was offcuts and he decided that as these lengths didn't meet regulations he would send them for scrap for his own financial gain.

"He is prepared to pay the company the amount he gained financially back in full."

Collins, of Great House Lane, Hasfield, nr Tewkesbury, admitted fraudulent activity in that between June 2017 and September 2018 he dishonestly obtained scaffolding bars belonging to MG Scaffolding and sold them as scrap.

Judge Ian Lawrie QC told Collins: "You really need to examine your sense of integrity in the light of your offending.

"However, I am pleased that you have found new employment in a completely different career. You do need to be punished, however, for the gross betrayal of trust.

"You will repay the amount you fraudulently gained back to the company."

The judge ordered that Collins pay £5,840.20 compensation to MG Scaffolding and be subjected to an 18 month community order that includes 200 hours of unpaid work He also ordered Collins to pay court costs of £1,822 and a victim surcharge.

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