Accountant who stole more than £330,000 to fund a holiday home and a Range Rover jailed

Hearldon was described as a 'liked' and 'trusted' employee. Credit: MEN Media

An accountant who stole more than £330,000 from his firm out of "greed" to fund a holiday home and a Range Rover has been jailed.

Laurence Hearldon, 39, from Ordsall, Salford, stole the money from Sanjeev 1979 Ltd, secretly transferring money 140 times into his account for nearly three years.

The father who was described as a 'liked' and 'trusted' employee said he had begun making the fraudulent transactions after falling into debt.

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

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

He was sacked from his position as a senior managing clerk at a ‘successful’ Cheetham Hill based wholesale fashion company when his crime was discovered.

"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.”

"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.

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

He was promoted to the role of senior managing clerk in August 2021, which involved access to "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.

Concerns about a discrepancy was raised after an audit of the company's finances was carried out in 2021.

Hearldon tried to 'explain it away' when he was first questioned by company bosses, but he confessed after being confronted again.

“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 started to steal 'small amounts' after getting in debt but had then 'lost control'. He has since paid back £43,000 of the money stolen.

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.