A Bangor man who scammed his employers in a bid to raise funds to pay off a drugs debt was spared jail after appearing in court on Monday.
Jonathan Mills was handed a 12-month sentence, which was suspended for two years, after Belfast Crown Court heard of the impact a prison term would have on his disabled daughter.
Mills, from Kilclief Gardens, admitted a charge of fraud by abuse of position, which occurred over a two-week period in May and June 2015.
In that time, Mills, who worked in a Belfast call centre on behalf of Vodafone, used his position to fraudulently order 38 handsets which he then sold on the black market.
A Crown prosecutor said at the time of offending, Mills’ primary duty in the call centre was dealing with mobile phone upgrades.
Suspicions about orders were raised by a manager on June 6, 2015, and it later emerged that Mills had ordered 38 handsets, which he sold on, and which amounted to a financial loss of £17,265 to Vodafone.
When he was arrested and interviewed, Mills made full admissions about what he had done.
Revealing that at the time of offending Mills was a cocaine addict, the prosecutor said he raised £9,000 from the phones which he used to pay off a drugs debt. The prosecutor added: “He also gave some of these phones directly to the dealer, as part payment.”
Concluding the Crown case, the prosecutor said Mills’ offending was both serious, and a breach of trust.
A defence barrister spoke of her client’s “difficult” childhood, which included domestic violence, alcoholism and a “lack of boundaries”.
The barrister said that during his teens, Mills mixed with negative peers, which in turn led to Mills misusing drink and drugs at an early age. She also revealed that Mills has overcome an addiction to Diazepam as well as battling an addiction to cocaine.
Regarding his family circumstances, the defence barrister highlighted the “round the clock” care which is required by Mills’ young disabled daughter and spoke of the “devastating impact” prison would have not just on her, but the family circle.
She also told the court that whilst employed at the call centre, Mills felt pressured and intimidated to commit the fraud by the people he owned the money too - but due to the lack of sophistication, he “knew he was going to get caught”.
After he was sentenced by Judge David McFarland, who said he was taking into consideration the complex needs of Mills’ disabled daughter, Mills was told “you are free to go”.