Two fraudsters have been jailed for 15 months each after they admitted stealing more than £100,000 from a public body which rehabilitated criminals.
Jailing 55-year-old former police officer Robert Davidson and Brian Christie (59) at Belfast Crown Court on Friday, Judge Gordon Kerr QC told the pair of con men their offences were all the worse because of the position of trust they had been in, the crime had spanned almost five years and was “sophisticated”.
Belfast men Davidson, from Langtry Court and Christie, from Deerpark Avenue, each pleaded guilty to 102 offences of false accounting and a further 23 counts of fraud by abuse of position on various dates between October 2003 and March 2008.
Prosecuting lawyer David McAughey had earlier told the court how the pair had been working for the Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders (NIACRO), Christie as an IT officer and Davidson as a training services co-ordinator and that each had authorisation to purchase and order computer parts from a sole company, Target Components, based in England.
In 2008 however, when they were both off work for a time, an outside agency was brought in and they uncovered numerous short comings and disparities in the records including 78 invoices headed from NIACRO for the supposed sale and supply of computer equipment.
Although as the lawyer pointed out, “NIACRO does not or should not be supplying any such goods to other businesses or persons”.
An investigation ensued and it transpired that “fraudulent invoices may have been submitted to the NIACRO accounts department by Mr Christie and Mr Davidson for payment into the First Trust account in the name of Target IT” said Mr McAughey.
Comparing bank statements from that account, along with genuine invoice documentation from Target Components, the lawyer said that over a five-year period “the accused had been submitting dummy invoices...and effectively siphoning off, ad lib, relatively large sums of money”.
He said that while records showed some £347,324 going through the account of Target IT between May 2002 and March 2008, the charges they had pleaded guilty to amounted to £111,201 and that from the account, £75,788 had been transferred to Christie with £74,787 going to Davidson.
Mr McAughey told the court that since the frauds had come to light, “NIACRO computer systems and safeguards were wholly revised”.
Jailing the pair, Judge Kerr told them they had caused a “significant loss to a public body”.