Accountant who stole £330k from fashion company splashed out on Range Rover and holiday home

Laurence Hearldon stole more than £300,000 over a three-year period. Credit: MEN Media

A greedy accountant who stole more than £330,000 from his employers and splashed out on a Range Rover and a holiday home has been locked up.

Laurence Hearldon, 39, was sacked from his position as a senior managing clerk at a ‘successful’ fashion company in Cheetham Hill, Manchester.

Hearldon was a ‘liked’ and ‘trusted’ employee with Sanjeev 1979 Ltd, but he had secretly siphoned off the firm’s funds into his own accounts for nearly three years.

The father from Salford said he had begun making the fraudulent transactions after falling into debt.

But Manchester Crown Court heard that he had bought a Range Rover and a ‘holiday home’ in Blackpool.

"These purchases prove that the only explanation for your offending is greed,” Judge Sarah Johnston told him.

"I'm also entirely satisfied from everything that I have read and heard that the majority of your offending was to provide a lifestyle beyond your means.”

Hearldon was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to an offence of committing fraud by abusing his position.

"You were liked and you were trusted,” the judge continued. "You have lost your good character by virtue of this offence. You have let your family down very badly.”

Prosecuting, William Donnelly said Hearldon joined the firm in May 2014. “By all accounts he was viewed as a popular and diligent member of the accounting department,” he said.

The court heard that by August 2021 he had been promoted to the role of senior managing clerk, a position which involved him in ‘all areas of the company’s financial affairs’.

Mr Donnelly said the firm’s turnover was ‘running into the tens of millions of pounds annually’, adding that a ‘small part’ of the company’s business was conducted via the PayPal payment system.

An audit of the company’s finances was carried out in 2021 which raised ‘concerns’ about a ‘discrepancy’.

Hearldon initially tried to ‘explain it away’ when questioned, but after he was confronted again by company bosses he confessed.

It was discovered that Hearldon had made 140 transactions over a near three year period.

“It seems that the company’s PayPal account was being used as a personal account by Mr Hearldon to extract sums of money which were not insubstantial,” Mr Donnelly said.

He was ‘summarily dismissed’, and attended a voluntary interview with police.

Hearldon told officers that he was in debt and that he had started to steal ‘small amounts’ but had then ‘lost control’.

He has since paid back £43,000 of the money stolen. Mr Donnelly said that it was discovered that Hearldon had purchased a Range Rover and a ‘holiday home’ in Blackpool.

Defending, William Staunton appealed for Hearldon to be spared from being sent to prison. He said Hearldon had since found another job carrying out ‘manual labour’.

“He is a grafter by nature,” Mr Staunton said. “He, on this occasion, has stepped into the realm of the grifter.”

Mr Staunton said that Hearldon was ‘profoundly ashamed’ of his behaviour.

“He is a man who wishes, perhaps for the goodness of his redemption, to be able to pay back to the community,” the barrister added.

“It is a sad story of a man who saw an opportunity to help feather the nest, but kept going with it.”

But Judge Johnston said the offence was too serious for any punishment other than an immediate prison sentence.

Hearldon, from Ordsall, Salford, will serve half of his three year sentence behind bars.

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