A man given £70,000 after a bank account error blew half of it on luxuries and a holiday before he was caught.
Former gambling addict Andrew Harling must have thought he’d hit the jackpot when the huge sum suddenly appeared in his current account, reported ChronicleLive.
A court heard it had been sent by a company due to a clerical error in which one number of a sort code had been entered incorrectly.
Despite realising it wasn’t his, Harling immediately set about spending as much as he could on luxuries and trying to hide it away in different accounts.
By the time the Royal Bank of Scotland froze his account, he’d managed to blow more than half of it.
The company who sent the money by mistake told him they just wanted it back and didn’t want to prosecute him but after being strung along by Harling, they eventually went to the police, the court heard.
Now the 33-year-old, of Stuart Gardens, Throckley, Newcastle, has been given a suspended prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court after pleading guilty to theft.
It was on January 8, 2019 that a mechanical engineering company based in Surrey sent £70,930 to Harling instead of another company which was the intended recipient.
On the same day, he moved £35,000 to his then-partner’s account and she transferred £9,000 back to him.
Thomas Parsons-Munn, prosecuting, said: “A number of substantial purchases were made by her, including jewellery and a holiday.”
On January 10 Harling transferred £44,000 from his current account into his savings account then withdrew £10,780 in cash from ATM machines.
In May, having been made aware of the issue, the bank froze the £25,130 that was left in the account.
The boss at the business then contacted Harling in October asking him to send the money back.
Harling said he was a gambling addict and believed the windfall had come from winnings but that he was speaking to his bank and would send back what was left.
In November, 2019, a further £8,089 was frozen by his bank and returned to the company.
In total, £33,220 was returned by his bank and £37,710 remains outstanding.
The court heard the trusted and respected finance manager at the firm, who made the one digit error, was so devastated, she insisted on quitting despite her boss pleading with her not to. She has been left “extremely depressed” by what happened.
Harling, who has nine previous convictions, pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to 24 weeks suspended for 12 months with a three month curfew.
Tony Cornberg, defending, said Harling is remorseful and “heartbroken” at the effect it has had on the finance manager.
He added: “The money landed in his account and temptation got the better of him.”