After working for just one week at a Leamington food company’s warehouse, Ryan Hiley simply stopped turning up – but continued claiming his wages.
And Warwick Crown Court heard that the lax system at the warehouse enabled him to pick up pay packets for almost two years before he was caught.
Hiley, aged 29, of Bourton Drive, Whitnash, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to fraudulently obtaining a total of £33,500.
Prosecutor Alex Warren said Hiley was registered with the Staffline employment agency.
Through the agency he began working in the warehouse of the Senoble food company, formerly Elisabeth the Chef, in Berrington Road, Leamington, in April 2012.
But at the end of April this year the company received an anonymous email which led to them carrying out an internal investigation into the hours worked and claimed for by him.
That involved looking at CCTV records and speaking to other employees on the shifts he said he had worked, who said they had not seen him.
“It turned out he had not been working at all, virtually since he first became employed there in April 2012.”
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano asked: “Did no-one notice the job was not being done for two years?”
Mr Warren explained that Hiley was one of a number of people employed to do the same work at the warehouse.
Each week he would contact the agency to tell them how many hours he had worked, and the agency then claimed that from Senoble, where it was ‘obvious the systems were slack.’
Mr Warren pointed out that over the two years Hiley had been paid £33,500 to which he was not entitled, but fees paid to the agency took Senoble’s loss up to a total of £45,000.
The court heard that Hiley had previous convictions, and at the time his frauds began he was subject to a nine-month suspended prison sentence for wounding.
Nicholas Aldridge, defending, said that if the case was adjourned Hiley could get hold of up to £5,000 from family and friends to pay to Senoble.
But that was rejected by the judge who made a ruling under the Proceeds of Crime Act that Hiley’s benefit was £33,500 and his only asset was the £760 value of his car.
He was ordered to pay that amount within three months or face a further 28 days in jail.
Mr Aldridge explained that the arrangement was that each week Hiley would tell the agency the hours he had worked, and based on that they would submit an invoice to the company.
“In his first month he had one or two days off and saw that he still got a full pay packet.
“Unfortunately, he took the decision, when he skipped work after a month, to continue telling the agency he had done a complete week, and he continued to get paid £350 to £380 a week.
“It’s surprising it took two years for anyone to realise he was not going in. When he was seen by the police he made full admissions.”
Over the two years he was also working as a mechanic at times, said Mr Aldridge, adding that Hiley, who has two children aged 11 and five, was simply using the money for his day-to-day living costs.
Jailing Hiley, Judge de Bertodano told him: “The system involved an element of trust, because you had to tell the agency the hours you were working; and it would seem no checks were being made.
“What you quickly started to do was not to inflate your hours, but simply not to turn up at work and to continue claiming you had for up to two years.
“While it may not have been the best of systems, your honesty was being relied on; and you chose to be dishonest, and carried on being dishonest for almost two years.”