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27 March 2019, 12:13 | Updated: 27 March 2019, 12:14
A financial manager and his colleague who plotted to defraud a company of more than £700k – spending the cash on designer clothes, holidays and a luxury car – have been jailed.
Wigan-based Jeremy Dawes joined forces with Simon Bleakley from Hindley to swindle an asbestos disposal firm in Bolton by diverting company payments to fictitious sub-contractor accounts controlled by them.
Simon Bleakley was employed as a part-time financial assistant with the company for 15 years and, between May 2012 and December 2013, fraudulent credits totalling £45,492.76 were paid into the account he shared with his wife, Patricia Bleakley.
Dawes joined the company as financial manager in January 2014 on a salary of £35,000 per year, benefitting from a company car and a host of benefits.
But this wasn’t enough for Dawes, who began plotting with Simon Bleakley to massively increase the funds being stolen.
Typically, the funds stolen would be made to look like legitimate payments for the company’s sub contractor’s and paid into Bleakley’s account before half was transferred to an account controlled by Dawes.
Dawes, in addition to the conspiracy with Bleakey, also made fraudulent transfers direct to his own bank account and forged signatures on company cheques enabling him to pay them into his own account.
The total loss to the company from the frauds carried out by Simon Bleakley and Jeremy DFraawes amounted to £725,909.15. Bleakley gained over £275k from the fraud whilst Dawes gained over £450k.
Patricia Bleakley had no direct connection to the company, but she held cards accessing the joint account and was responsible for spending money that she knew had been obtained by fraud.
Transactions on the account include frequent holidays, leisure activities and designer clothing,
A phone seized from Dawes contained a video he’d received from the Bleakleys –showing the couple proudly unveiling a brand new Mercedes bought with their ill-gotten gains
The trio were sentenced on Monday 25 March 2019 at Preston Crown Court for more than 7 years.
Jeremy Dawes (25/11/1971) of Ringway Avenue, Leigh was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud, fraud by abuse of position and money laundering.
Simon Bleakley (02/12/1975) of Kelso Grove, Hindley was sentenced to three years and three months in prison after pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position, conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.
Patricia Bleakley (28/02/1974) of Kelso Grove, Hindley was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years and is also required to do 120 hours of unpaid work, after pleading guilty to money laundering.
Detective Constable Tim Hanson from GMP’s Specialist Fraud Investigation Team, said: “This is a family-run company, built upon dedication and hard work that employs a number of people in the local community – the people in Bolton, working for the people of Bolton.
“By concocting their brazen scam, this trio of offenders risked not only the company’s future but the future of the people who rely on it.
“It’s clear from their behaviour and spending that they were motivated by greed and thought they could cover their tracks.
“Their arrogance knew know bounds; time after time they diverted huge amounts of cash to their accounts, often leaving the company in financial crisis and struggling to pay staff wages. Despite this they continued to steal from the company so they could maintain their lavish lifestyle.
“But their apparent wealth was a sham. In truth they are petty fraudsters whose ploy was unmasked by the dedication of GMP’s Economic Crime Unit.
“The sentences handed down by the court reflect the abhorrent actions of the defendants who now have a long time to reflect on their actions.
“Further court proceedings are underway to recover the proceeds of their crimes.”