A company manager who stole £40,000 from his employers to fund cocaine fuelled encounters with escorts following the break down of his marriage has been jailed.

George Smith was 33 years old and worked for Bromborough Paints in Cheshire, which is now Paintwell. He began to raid the till.

The father of two, who earned £27,000 a year as a branch manager, had been found selling pots of paints and rolls of wallpaper to tradesmen for cash before pocketing the money for himself.

When the company performed an audit, Smith was found to have made frequent purchases at restaurants, nightclubs, and hotels.

Smith claimed that his company had confronted him and that he’d squandered the funds he stole because he was a ‘drug addict to cocaine, alcohol, and prostitution.

Smith from Winnington in Northwich admitted to theft at Manchester Crown Court. He was sentenced for 21-months.

Giuseppe Alfonso (finance director for Paintwell), described Smith’s infractions as ‘incredibly disturbing’.

George Smith (pictured), a former branch manager at a paint firm, has been jailed for 21 months after admitting theft by employee

George Smith, a former manager of a branch at a paint company was sentenced to 21 months in prison after admitting that he had stolen employee money.

Manchester Crown Court heard Smith was appointed manager of Bromborough Paint's Trafford Park branch in September 2016 before the thefts began in January 2018

Manchester Crown Court heard Smith had been appointed Manager of Bromborough’s Trafford-Park branch in September 2016. This was before the Jan 2018 thefts.

Manchester Crown Court heard the thefts began in January 2018 after Smith was appointed manager at the firm’s Trafford Park branch, near Manchester in September 2016.

Rachel Widdecombe (prosecutor) said Smith’s infractions were not revealed until May 2019. This was when Alfonso performed an audit, and discovered that stock adjustments were made in an “unusually large amount”.

According to Ms Widdecombe, Mr Alfonso discovered that all of the incorrect adjustments were made by defendant. He arranged a meeting with Smith for discussion. Smith admitted that he had gotten himself into a rut and accepted responsibility.

Ms Widdecombe stated:[Smith]He said that he was happy he’d been caught, as it would end his crimes.

Mr Alfonso was told by him that he had stolen paint from his home since march 2018. He then suggested that he may have developed an addiction to alcohol, drugs, and prostitution. He didn’t elaborate on whether this was an addiction that he developed only after becoming the branch manager.

‘The defendant’s bank statements indicated he was far from being in debt.

“In actuality, he preferred to withdraw cash from multiple outlets or nightclubs as well as make regular purchases from hotels and restaurants, often purchasing several items at once in the same place on the same date.

“His company wages were paid to that account without any obvious reference of outgoings like rent or mortgage.

‘The vast majority of the £40,000 or so that he accepts he stole cannot be traced.’

Smith was then suspended after the meeting. However, when questioned by police, he refused to answer and said he didn’t know why. 

According to Mr Alfonso, Smith stole 4,813 products, including wallpaper and paint, during 17 months.

Manchester Crown Court was told that when tradesman came in to the store and bought items, Smith would offer a cash price free of VAT then cancel the sale voiding the transaction. The stolen paint wouldn’t show up on the company records.

In mitigation defence counsel Mr Simeon Evans said: ‘[Smith]Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one who took money from the company. Another employee was also caught not long after the suspect was captured.

‘However he accepts that he took £40,000 for himself and he feels shame for his offending.

He was not asking for that money, even though he had some debt. Instead, he spent the money in the disclosed ways because he felt under pressure after his divorce.

“He was a good man who invested in his family and marriage. But the divorce caused him to lose his character. A history of substance abuse and alcoholism played an important role in his offending.

“It was a shock for his family, and they’ve struggled to deal with that.” He is not being condoned by them, but they are there to support him. He is sure to make a public shaming.

Smith, who earned £27,000 a year as a branch manager, had been found selling pots of paints and rolls of wallpaper to tradesmen for cash before pocketing the money for himself

Smith, who earned £27,000 a year as a branch manager, had been found selling pots of paints and rolls of wallpaper to tradesmen for cash before pocketing the money for himself

Hilary Manley sentenced Smith and said to him, “You took stock and sold it at a lower price so you could keep the cash.” You spent the cash on meals at restaurants, prostitutes and cocaine and it’s all gone.

“The problems in your marriage can cause anxiety and stress, but this is not an excuse.

“It wasn’t even like you were poor or in debt. Instead, you lived a luxurious life thanks to the proceeds of your business and had a great deal of trust in yourself and were responsible for their success. For a lifestyle that was completely selfish, this thieving continued for many years.

In a statement, Mr Alfonso said: ‘This theft shook our business. Smith’s sheer quantity and volume of goods was quite shocking.

“I used to consider Smith a friend and not a colleague at work. I was shocked by his lack of integrity, respect and honesty. I can’t even comprehend the degree of dishonesty that he displayed in his actions. When I discovered that George was my friend, I was in shock.

“I broke down when I interviewed him and he confessed his guilt. I had been a charity event supporter and he knew that it had upsetting me.

“He asked me to bring him home to explain to his brother and mother the thefts. I was forced to tell them the bad news that George had been caught with the stolen goods. At the time, his mum was upset.

At Manchester Crown Court, Smith, of Winnington, Northwich, admitted theft by employee and was jailed for 21 months

Manchester Crown Court – Smith, Winnington, Northwich, confessed theft by employee. Smith was sent to prison for 21 months 

Alfonso said that there were systems to prevent theft as with any company process.

“However, a few staff abuse their position to steal from their employers and their coworkers every day.

This had a profound effect on each employee. Trust was badly damaged and we, as business, had to make sure that employees could not access certain systems again. This contradicts the way the business operates, as it creates distrust among the many people who work for the company.

“This affected every employee as we needed to protect our interests. We had to restrict monetary bonuses for everyone.

“In my role as financial director I’ve found myself becoming an ad hoc detective ever since the incident. I have felt a lot of stress.

When Smith was fired, he stated that he had taken the goods to fund a drug- and sex worker addiction he’d developed following his divorce.

“I was going though my own separation at the time. I thought Smith’s actions were appalling. Smith had chosen to lie to his support people through times of difficulty and he’d deceive them.