AN ALCOHOLIC council official who defrauded his employer through a fictitious company has been spared immediate jail.
A judge told Steven John Williams, 41, he had feathered his own nest ready for when he expected to lose his job.
When a disciplinary hearing was set up amid complaints the council could not get hold of him during work time, he admitted what he had done.
The Flintshire Council empty homes development officer set up a fictitious firm and sent in bogus invoices and the council paid him.
He also deceived a member of the public to part with money which he kept.
Mold Crown Court heard yesterday the total fraud was £22,285 but it had all been paid back.
Williams, of Butterbache Road, Huntington, received a 20-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. He was placed under supervision and was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work after he admitted three frauds and asked for four similar offences to be taken into consideration.
Judge Philip Hughes told Williams earlier this year “you helped yourself to your employer’s money” when they trusted him.
He became addicted to drink and that led him to believe he was going to lose his job. The judge told him: “You were effectively feathering your nest for the day that you would lose your job.”
Prosecutor Gareth Roberts said Williams worked for the council for 23 years, for the last three as the empty homes officer.
Under the council’s empty homes scheme, owners could agree to the council grant aiding the renovation of their properties to a standard so they could be used for social housing.
One such owner was Gareth Okell who entered a property in Liverpool Road, Buckley, into the scheme. Williams falsely invoiced him for £325 and then £8,000 which he kept himself.
It emerged he had set up his own bogus company MPW Services with its own bank account and he submitted invoices to the council for work done to properties which had not been carried out.
In July, the council was concerned about the way he was carrying out his duties, a disciplinary hearing was held, and at that stage Williams admitted what he had done. There was more than £18,000 in his company’s account.
Patrick Williamson, defending, said Williams had seven references and had worked blamelessly for the authority for many years but became an alcoholic.
His use of drink was out of control so his wife took steps to prevent his access to family finances. It had the effect of turning him to alternative sources of income.Williamson said Williams had lost his job but was taking steps to re-build a new life for himself and his family.