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Accountant stole thousands from satnav firm Garmin
9:27am Sunday 10th June 2012 in News
AN accountant who stole £46,000 from his Hampshire employers should be out of prison in time to spend Christmas with his wife and children, after a judge showed him “mercy”.
Craig Paget fixed the books at satellite navigation firm Garmin to write cheques to himself over three years to help debt problems for his family.
Southampton Crown Court heard two of the 39-year-old father-of-three’s children have severe disabilities related to autism and he “panicked” as he tried to keep his head above water financially.
One of only a “small number of people” at the firm with the authority to write cheques, Paget signed off 25 payments to himself between 2008 and 2011, for between £359 and £4,500, either creating funds or writing off money in dormant accounts.
He was found out when an investigation was sparked by two customers asking about refund credits that had been wiped from the records.
In mitigation Richard Martin said Paget had struggled to get out of debt after university but had successfully cleared his finances, only to start worrying when bills began to pile up again.
Modest He said: “This is a man who was desperate. He panicked.
“This was not to fund a lavish lifestyle. This family have all the hallmarks of a modest existence.”
Paget, of Woodgate Lane, Marchwood, admitted one count of theft.
But after hearing character references, including “heartrending”
accounts from Paget’s children, two of whom were described as having “extreme”
needs, Judge Peter Ralls QC said he would make the sentence as short as possible.
He said: “It’s never a happy situation and no judge will enjoy having to sentence a man with your background and your good character until now.
“You’ve put all that in jeopardy.
“Your wife considers herself and your children victims of this crime, more so probably than the company.
“They require your assistance, your love, your attention.
“You’ve let them down, I’m afraid.”
Paget was jailed for 12 months.
Judge Ralls said being released on licence halfway through the 12-month term would mean he will be home for Christmas with his children.