A gambler who stole nearly one million pounds from global sports giant Nike to feed his addiction has been jailed.
Christopher Rawding, 35, is said to have abused his position as a cash collector with the international sportswear company over a three-and-a-half year period.
Rawding’s role saw him tasked with collecting money from large retailers that were placing significant orders with Nike.
According to Northumbria Police, as his gambling addiction took hold between April 2015 and October 2018, Rawding siphoned more than £890,000 paid by two independent sportswear retailers into his own bank account.
Spending up to £5,000 a day on gambling, it is understood Rawding then tried to cover up his crimes by using payments and credit balances of Nike’s other customers to clear the retailers’ account balance.
Police launched an investigation into the disappearance of the money after Nike spotted its employee's deception.
Rawding was later arrested and immediately admitted the offences in interview.
Rawding, of Belsay Gardens, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation when appearing before magistrates in South Tyneside in October 2019.
On Tuesday, May 5 2021, he appeared in the dock at Newcastle Crown Court where a judge sentenced him to 40 months behind bars.
Following the case, Detective Constable Alan Lowery, of Northumbria Police, said: “This was a clear and prolonged abuse of trust as Rawding stole hundreds of thousands of pounds from his employer in order to fund his gambling addiction.
“He then used his specialist knowledge in a complex industry to desperately attempt to disguise his criminality over a number of years.
“His greed has had a significant effect on the retailers who continued to pay him in good faith, in the belief that their funds were being passed on to Nike.
“Rawding’s addiction grew out of control and he now acknowledges the true severity of his actions, which have been reflected in this custodial term."
Proceedings have also been launched under the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize any remaining assets that Rawding may have.