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Mexican Tortilla manager Rory O'Brien boss jailed over £25,000 fraud
THE former manager of a Southampton restaurant is behind bars after swindling more than £25,000 from his unsuspecting employers.
Rory O’Brien stole £25,470 from the Tortilla Mexican Grill Company Ltd in WestQuay Shopping Centre by failing to bank takings and pocketing the cash.
Southampton Crown Court heard how a police investigation uncovered that O’Brien spent £700 on a bracelet and frequently spent cash in a city centre bar.
But the 30-year-old claimed he was forced into stealing the money under duress after receiving threats from a man he owed money to. O’Brien, originally from Old Kent Road in London, moved to the Southampton branch in November 2012 after being promoted.
Prosecutor Gavin Sumpter told the court how the firm’s managing director was alerted to O’Brien’s behaviour in January this year after it emerged no takings had been banked since December 14, 2012.
Restaurant bosses travelled to Southampton to confront O’Brien and tracked him down at the Hotel Ibis in West Quay Road.
Mr Sumpter added: “He told them the money was in a bag that had been left in the boiler room. The chef looked in the bag and found £480 in there.”
The court heard how O’Brien accompanied them to Southampton Central police station where he was quizzed by officers and arrested. Officers found he had £600 on his person and a search of his hotel room found £1,600.
Guy Draper, defending O’Brien, said a “significant gangster” had issued threats to his client’s safety and his family’s safety.
He said: “The man he borrowed money off put him under pressure to borrow more and more against Mr O’Brien’s wishes. This was an out of character act.”
Sentencing O’Brien to 16 months in jail, Judge Derwin Hope said: “A high degree of trust was put in you.
“You say the money was just to the person dealing threats to you but if that’s happening to you it’s your duty to tell your employees and the police straight away. The money is now lost and you offer no means to the court of its repayment.”
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