Car salesman jailed for 'blatant breaches of trust'
A ‘TRUSTED and senior’ car salesman who stole thousands of pounds from his employer to fund gambling and alcohol addictions – before doing the same at another garage while on bail for the first offences – has been jailed.
Lee David Arnold, who worked as a sales manager at Motor Mall between 2014 and 2016 and then at Freelance, was described in the Royal Court as having experienced a ‘catastrophic descent into addiction’ which led him on a course for self destruction.
It was during this time that he committed the offences, taking a total of £32,700 from his employers in crimes that Deputy Bailiff Tim Le Cocq described as ‘blatant breaches of trust’.
In a statement read in court Freelance said that the 39-year-old’s offending had had a ‘lasting impression on the business’.
Sentencing Arnold to a total of two years and three months in prison, Mr Le Cocq said the fact that he had stolen from Freelance after being charged for the earlier offences at Motor Mall was a ‘very significant aggravating factor’.
‘The value gained and your employers lost was £32,700 in total,’ he said. ‘These are, on any analysis, blatant breaches of trust and are exacerbated by the facts that I mentioned earlier [regarding being on bail for earlier offences].’
Earlier during Friday’s hearing the court was told that between June and July last year, while employed by Motor Mall, Arnold had kept a cheque for £11,000 from the sale of a Honda CRV and paid it into his own account and that he had done the same with £400 from the sale of a second-hand Peugeot.
He also sold a further car for £4,800 and gave the buyer his personal bank account details to transfer the money into.
Arnold, the court heard, was interviewed by police late last year and told officers that he had been stealing money to support his gambling habit and was released on bail.
Three months later, while working for Freelance, Arnold again took payments for the sale of two cars directly into his own bank accounts and although he transferred some money into the company account, he kept a total of £16,500.
Arnold admitted four counts of larceny as a servant and one count of embezzlement.
Attorney General Robert MacRae, prosecuting, said: ‘The defendant was trusted by both employers and was seen as a senior man on the team.’
Mr MacRae read out a statement from Freelance in court which said that Arnold’s offending had had a ‘lasting impression on the business’ and that he had ‘abused his position of trust’.
Advocate Adam Harrison, defending, argued that while a custodial sentence was ‘inevitable’, the 27 months asked for by the prosecution was too high.
He said: ‘Mr Arnold moved to Jersey with his family and the move did not go well.
‘The breakdown in his relationship appears to have been the catalyst for a catastrophic descent into addiction – both gambling and drinking. He was on course for self-destruction.
‘None of this is an excuse to justify his behaviour but I would ask the court to take into account that he committed the offences over a reasonably short period of time.’
Advocate Harrison added that Arnold had pleaded guilty and had expressed genuine remorse for his actions. He added that Arnold had ‘lost the career he worked hard for’ but was making good use of the time he has already spent in custody.
Jurats Collette Crill and Rozanne Thomas were sitting.