Construction boss steals £1m from building firm

Grant Prior 12 years ago

A construction boss has been jailed for five years for stealing and spending £1 million of his employer’s money on a lavish lifestyle.

Michael Crowther of Bryantsfield, Lostock stole so much cash that a building firm had to close a branch and lay off 15 staff.

At Bolton Crown Court yesterday, Judge Steven Everett said Crowther was guilty of a “huge breach of trust”.

The judge added: “You were bleeding the company of its lifeblood and, by the time this came out, it was almost terminal hemorrhaging.

“Repaying the money won’t bring back those lost years of terrible suffering of the people you hurt.”

The Bolton News said Crowther began working for Whitefield-based Magden building supplies as an accountant in 2000 and owner Alan Robinson made him general manager in 2001.

Crowther took home a £39,000 salary and drove a £25,000 company car.

The 52-year-old told the court in a pre-sentence report “there was a thrill and excitement of stealing money and not being caught”.

Crowther secretly pocketed cash payments and stole £1,027,214.21 between 2002 and 2007.

He and his wife, Carol, went on four holidays a year to America, Canada and Lanzarote.

They also paid off the £97,000 mortgage on their Lostock home, spent £25,000 on home improvements and invested hundreds of thousands of pounds more.

When Magden carried out a stock check in 2007, it came up £390,000 short and bosses could not work out where £5,000 had gone from the sale of goods damaged in a flood.

Crowther confessed to stealing the £5,000 but, although police found £57,000 in cash at his home, it was not until two weeks before his trial that he pleaded guilty to 48 counts of false accounting and theft.

Keith Harrison, defending, said: “He has expressed remorse.

“It may well be that a large repayment and a £250,000 sale of his house will mean it can be repaid.”

A jury found his wife Carol Crowther guilty of possessing criminal property after she claimed she had no idea where the money was coming from.

Judge Everett said: “Most people finding £57,000 in cash in a house would assume the owner had won the Lottery.

“You knew what was happening.

You will now lose everything and rightly so.”

Mrs Crowther must do 250 hours of unpaid work and was given a 12-month suspended sentence.

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