1. ITV Report

Former GWR boss and PA spared jail after scamming rail company out of £13,000

Rail boss Mark Heffernan and his personal assistant Jennifer Perry defrauded the rail company out of thousands of pounds. Credit: ITV News

A rail boss who scammed GWR out of more than £10,000 with bogus expense claims has been spared jail.

Mark Heffernan, from Chudleigh in Devon, defrauded the rail company out of £10,530 by making claims for alcohol, hotels and travel in the name of 'team building'.

His personal assistant, Jennifer Perry, of Pill, was also involved - signing off on alcohol expenses that totalled £3,281 between June 2009 and December 2016.

At Bristol Crown Court, Judge Martin Picton handed Heffernan a one-year prison sentence - suspended for a year - ordered him to compensate GWR and pay £1,800 court costs.

The pair were sentenced at Bristol Crown Court. Credit: ITV News West Country

Your offending has cost you your good character and it also cost you a senior position within GWR for whom you had worked, it would seem, very effectively for many years.

The vast majority of it was aimed at supporting and rewarding the team who you managed in a way that you clearly thought would be effective as a tool to good performance.

You chose, however, to break the rules in order to cover costs that were not legitimately recoverable via the expenses system and that has cost you very dear.

– Judge Martin Picton

Personal assistant Perry, meanwhile, was fined £500 and ordered to pay £500 court costs.

During proceedings, the court heard Heffernan had worked for GWR for 28 years and worked his way up to Head of Drivers and then Deputy Operations Director on an annual salary of £91,000 plus bonuses.

He rubber-stamped claims for alcohol, even though alcohol could not be claimed, and he billed GWR for hotel stays he made with his wife.

Perry acted on instructions and there was evidence of her trying to hide alcohol purchases in claims for "food and beverages."

Heffernan, who resigned from the company, told investigators he recognised he had strayed into the wrong side of policy.

Perry, who was dismissed, gave a prepared statement in which she said she acted on orders.