A mortgage advisor who stole thousands of pounds from his workplace has narrowly avoided an immediate jail term.
Andrew McNaughton, who worked for the Blackpool branch of the Nationwide Building Society, stole £5,000 customers had paid in fees between May 2012 and October 2014.
The society spent £91,000 on the probe into his activities, which took 878 man hours, Preston Crown Court heard.
The father-of-four was said to have committed the offence because he was desperate to provide for his family.
McNaughton, 39, of Neville Avenue, Cleveleys, previously pleaded guilty to theft from his employer between May 2012 and October last year.
McNaughton stared at the floor in the dock as Judge Andrew Woolman, imposing 12 months suspended for two years, said: “You had effectively cooked the books and used someone else’s card to make payments that needed to be paid. You were in a position of trust.
“They placed their trust in you to deal with their customers and you let them and yourself down very badly.
Charlie Brown, prosecuting, said he had been a mortgage advisor. His job was to arrange new mortgages, remortgages and loans, some of which would require the customer to pay a fee.
He added: “McNaughton asked some customers to pay the fees in cash and he would then take that cash.
“In some instances the fees he asked for in cash were fees not applicable to that application.
“In other instances the fee would be required and in order to account for that fee which he had pocketed he would enter into a fairly complex chain process in which he would use details of other customers’ cards to make it look like the fee had been paid.
“That chain could be quite lengthy although eventually clearly that chain had to end and a customer would suffer loss.”
The Nationwide has fulfilled its duties and recompensed customers.
Mr Brown added: “He kept detailed records for himself to cover up his tracks but this meant he left a very clear trail for investigators to follow.
“It’s a breach of a high degree of trust.”
McNaughton was rumbled when a woman customer contacted the building society on September 8 last year and queried why her house valuation had not taken place. Officers became suspicious and an investigation revealed her card details had been used to pay for another person’s fee.
In October, McNaughton was suspended from work. When interviewed he admitted taking the money because he had financial problems.
At first it was thought he had taken £578 and he said no further money – but a probe revealed a £5,000 theft.
Darren Lee Smith, defending, said his client, who had no previous convictions, urged the judge to suspend his sentence and said he made no attempt to “worm his way out of the situation” adding: “He had taken out payday loans, a recipe for disaster that resulted in a significant financial position impossible for him to address.” The court heard he was treated for skin cancer in 2009 and had a reduced income at that point.
He has given Nationwide permission to take the money he owes from his pension and has started work as a delivery driver to pay his debts.
• A drunken patient acted like a yob at a hospital’s casualty department and shouted at a nurse “Get your knickers off.”
James Whitmore upset staff and other patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s accident and emergency unit by making threats and swearing.
After being arrested at the hospital and then being released from the police station Whitmore was causing trouble in the street the next day and had to be arrested again.
Whitemore, 41, of Marine Parade, Fleetwood, pleaded guilty to threatening behaviour, being drunk and disorderly and breaching a conditional discharge imposed for a previous offence of being drunk and disorderly.
He was fined £80 and ordered to pay a £150 court charge plus £20 victims’ surcharge by Blackpool magistrates.
Presiding magistrate, Peter Trend, told him: “The police should not have to go to a hospital and deal with you when you are drunk.”
Prosecutor, Pam Smith, said police were called to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where staff complained about Whitmore using unacceptable language and making threats on September 18 at 5am.
Whitmore was asleep in a bay of the minor injuries unit and staff confirmed he was medically fit to be discharged. When a nurse tried to rouse him he made rude remarks and shouted “I’ll rip your head off.”
He was arrested and later released. On September 19 at 9.10am Whitmore was arrested again after police heard him shouting threats and swearing in Lytham Road, before making gestures at an officer.
Patrick Nelligan, defending, said at the time of the offences his client was homeless, living on the streets and drinking. He could not remember what happened at the hospital, but apologised for his behaviour.
Since then he had returned to live with his parents and got help from alcohol specialists who hoped to get him into a detoxification unit for six months.
• A hotel guest had to be PAVA-sprayed by police after the man damaged a bedroom and assaulted his partner of 27 years.
HGV driver Stephen Barcock was arrested at Guy’s Thatched Hamlet near Garstang after he downed a bottle of vodka and started to punch the mother of his three children on the head.
Worried guests who heard the noise of the assault called the management who took victim from the room to a place of safety.
Barcock, 46, of Heathfield Road,Fleetwood, admitted assaulting his partner when he appeared before District Judge Jeff Brailsford sitting at Blackpool Magistrates Court.
He also admitted criminal damage valued at £300 to articles in the hotel room, possession of cannabis and sending his partner an indecent and offensive text.
Pam Smith, prosecuting, said the couple had gone to the hotel where Barcock began to be nasty towards his partner.She threatened to leave the hotel but they made up and went into Garstang to drink in pubs.
Barcock started to chat up other women and his partner left him to go back to the hotel.
Barcock returned to the room and in a temper began damaging a window, a cup and a vase.
He then turned his attention to his partner and began to swear at her and repeatedly hit her on the head and refused to let her out of the room.
The hotel manager arrived and Barcock tried to keep him out.
However the victim managed to flee Barcock who has a previous non molestation order against the woman.
The prosecutor said that later – in the early hours of the morning–the victim received text messages from Barcock one stated:”This is the biggest mistake of your life.”
Police arrived and they had to use their spray to control Barcock.
Gerry Coyle, defending, said: “This was a nasty disturbance from start to finish and he wishes to apologise. He says it will not happen again.”
Sentencing Barcock the judge told him: “You were a disgrace. What you did ticked every box when it comes to domestic violence.”
Barcock recieved a 26 week jail term suspended for 12 months. He was ordered to pay the hotel £465 compensation and fined £50 for possession of the cannabis. He must also pay £345 court costs.
• A carer was arrested after taking his disabled wife’s car without her permission as a prank.
Darren Stanley intended to move her Motability vehicle from one car park to another at a Fleetwood holiday park.
Another car crashed into him from a side road as he drove along in the park and the police were called.
Stanley, 42, of Fleetwood Road North, Thornton, pleaded guilty to taking a motor vehicle without consent.
He was sentenced to a two week curfew from 9pm to 7am and ordered to pay a £150 court charge with £60 victims’ surcharge by Blackpool magistrates.
Prosecutor, Pam Smith, said police were called to the Cala Gran Holiday park on August 21 at 2.30pm where two cars had collided,
Stanley admitted to an officer he had taken his wife’s Peugeot while she was asleep in the caravan during a break with family members.
Malcolm Cartwright, defending, said another car had come out of a side road of the park and collided with the rear wheel of the car Stanley was driving.
Mr Cartwright added: “This is a bizarre case. He was moving the car to play a prank on his wife. She has called him a lot of names and said he has been remarkably stupid.”
• A man grew cannabis with a street estimate valued at thousands of pounds at Fleetwood.
Trevor Hemsley, 51, of Beach Road, Cleveleys, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis on June 25 this year.
Pam Smith, prosecuting, asked for the case to be sentenced at crown court. The estimated street value of the cannabis had been put at between £2,340 and £6,840.
Stephen Duffy, defending, said the street value which had been put on the cannabis was not accepted.
Hemsley was sent to Preston Crown Court for sentence on October 28 by Blackpool magistrates.
• A man has made his first appearance at court accused of producing 1,120 grams of cannabis at Fleetwood.
James Williams, 56, of Ariel Way, Fleetwood, is alleged to have committed the offence on June 25 this year.
Pam Smith, prosecuting, asked for the case to be heard at crown court.
Defence lawyer, Patrick Nelligan, said his client would not indicate a plea to the offence at that stage.
Williams was bailed to appear at Preston Crown Court on October 28 by Blackpool magistrates.
• A woman who reversed into another car said her view had been obstructed by a tree.
Amanda Kenyon criticised the local council saying it never seemed to get round to sorting the tree out.
Kenyon, 36, of Victoria Street, Fleetwood, who said her job entailed driving, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention.
She was fined £20 with £40 costs plus £20 victims’ surcharge and had three penalty points put on her driving licence by Blackpool magistrates.
Pam Smith, prosecuting, said a retired woman was driving on London Street, Fleetwood, on March 10 at 7.45am, when Kenyon reversed her Honda Civic into her car, causing her to veer across the carriageway.
The retired woman said she suffered whiplash type injuries and saw a specialist. She added she suffered from floating lights in her eyes.
Kenyon, who had no previous convictions, said the tree obstructed the view of drivers. That morning the sun was low and she was edging out at an angle, trying to see past the tree.
She had been offered the chance to go on a driver’s course instead of being prosecuted, but she could not afford the £165 the course costs.
• A father has made his first appearance at court accused of hitting his son on the hand with a metal dumbbell bar.
Wayne Robinson, 53, of Lindel Road, Fleetwood, pleaded not guilty to assaulting his son at Fleetwood on September 8 this year.
Robinson was bailed to November 13 for trial by Blackpool magistrates.
He must live and sleep at his given address and not contact the complainant or go within 100 metres of Chatsworth Road, Fleetwood, as conditions of his bail.