A member of a Warwick-based medical imaging company’s finance team stole more than £30,000 to fund a gambling addiction - by putting through false refunds into his own account.
But Robert Chamberlain has been given a chance to avoid being jailed, after a judge at Warwick Crown Court gave him six months to pay back at least £3,000 of the money.
Chamberlain had pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud while working in a position of trust at Alliance Medical Ltd, which is based at Warwick Technology Park in Gallows Hill, Warwick.
Prosecutor Ian Speed said Chamberlain (31) of William Kirby Close, Tile Hill, Coventry, was a member of the finance team at Alliance Medical, which provides private medical imaging services.
But between March and November last year he used his position to put through 48 refunds to people who had paid for MRI scans but were members of private medical schemes.
In fact the payments totalling £32,742 were being paid into his own bank account.
But the company’s financial director became suspicious about the unusually high number of refunds relating to MRI scans.
When she challenged Chamberlain, he admitted what he had been doing, and was dismissed, and the police were contacted.
Following his arrest, Chamberlain made full admissions, explaining that he had taken the money because of a gambling addiction.
Mr Speed added that Chamberlain, who had no previous convictions, had entered into an agreement with Alliance Medical to pay the money back.
Charles Crinion, defending, said: “This offence was committed because of the gambling addiction which is dealt with in the pre-sentence report.
“It is now under control, and he has been receiving professional treatment from Gamcare, and is going to meetings which are held twice a week in Coventry.”
Mr Crinion said Chamberlain, who now had another job, taking home around £2,000 a month, had been paying back £25 a week, and had so far repaid £500 of what he stole.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano questioned why he was repaying so little, in view of his income.
After speaking to Chamberlain, Mr Crinion said he had a young son, but his relationship with his ex-partner had ended partly because of the offence and his gambling addiction.
He was now living with his parents, and although he had been contributing to his ex-partner’s home, he would now be able to pay £500-700 a month, the judge was told.
But Judge de Bertodano responded: “I want some guarantee that that is going to happen. I’m going to defer sentence for six months so he can show me that is what he’s going to do.
“The sentence I consider appropriate is 16 months after his guilty plea. When he comes back, I need him to show me he has paid back at least £3,000.
“If he can show me that, I will suspend the sentence; if he is not able to show me that, it will be immediate.”
Deferring sentence and granting Chamberlain bail, the judge told him: “If you can come back and show me you’re really going to pay this money back, I will not send you to prison.”