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A Flint father stole £600,000 from his trusting employers to fund his excessive gambling addiction

Liam Curtis

A GAMBLING addict who secretly swindled his trusting employers out of more than £600,000 and remortgaged his family home was left homeless and penniless.

For more than five years Liam Curtis, of Trelawney Avenue, Flint, stole more than half a million pounds from Jane Lewis in St Werburgh Street, Chester, despite the husband and wife owners treating him ‘as one of the family’.

Appearing at Chester Crown Court on Monday, the former finance director was sentenced to four years in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of theft which forced his employers into voluntary liquidation.

The court heard how between September 2005 and June 2010 Curtis, who had worked for the company since 1997, secretly stole in excess of £500,000 from NPKA (who trade as Jane Lewis) which was owed by the company to the Inland Revenue.

And between February and September 2009 Curtis used a company credit card to withdraw a total of £31,900 before secretly remortgaging his own £70,000 family home to fund his excessive gambling addiction.

Prosecuting, David Jones said Curtis had been placed in a high level of trust by his employers, given blank signed cheques and put in charge of the company finances.

He said: “As we speak the amount owed to the Inland Revenue is in excess of £400,000 of which the company was only able to pay back £135,000.

“This meant that NPKA was forced into liquidation and is now at an end.

“The defendant’s actions directly led to the bankruptcy of the company, which had placed him in a high degree of trust.”

Curtis’s fraud was only discovered when the company, which provides healthcare staffing assistance to the NHS and Cheshire West and Chester Council, began to run into financial difficulties.

Defending, Richard Thomas described how Curtis had originally intended to pay back the money but his gambling addiction had spiralled out of control.

“The vast majority of the money was wasted using a card on a roulette machine gambling up to £100 at a time.

“He wanted to repay the money but as it got worse and worse he started gambling more and more. When police looked into his bank account he had incomings of £861,000 but £863,000 going out.”

Mr Thomas explained Curtis was not leading a lavish lifestyle but was wasting all his money gambling, an addiction that led to him being kicked out by his wife and being forced to live on the streets, before trying to take his own life.

“His wife kicked him out in 2010 after discovering that he had remortgaged the house for £70,000 without her knowing.

“She is now going through the civil courts to try and stop her two children from being evicted.”

After the case, a Jane Lewis Health and Social Care Management spokesman said: “The care and well-being of our service users have always been, and remains our first priority.

“The defendant’s actions have at no time affected the standards of care or the well-being of any service user. All client organisations were kept fully informed throughout.”