THREE men who hatched a plan over rounds of golf to defraud a council by submitting bogus invoices for work which was never done will pay back more than £69,000 from their criminal gains.
Michael Skirving, 51, a former head of Darlington Borough Council's asbestos removal team, encouraged his two businessman friends Martin Dougherty and James Burns to falsely invoice the authority.
Dougherty, the boss of a roofing firm, claimed £75,000 for work he claimed to have done for the council, while company owner Burns fraudulently billed for £33,000 for the hire of a cherry-picker.
Loading article content
Skirving, of Grange Road, 47-year-old Dougherty, of Westbrooke Avenue and Burns, 45, of Wansbeck Gardens, all addresses in Hartlepool previously given to Teesside Crown Court, were convicted of conspiracy to defraud in 2011 and jailed for 18 months, 12 months and six months respectively.
All three men, who were members of a golfing society, have now been released from jail and appeared at the crown court for a proceeds of crime hearing.
Prosecutor Rosalind Scott Bell said the agreed benefit for Skirving was £54,747. His realisable assets – the amount of money he has available to pay back the money criminally earned – was set at £14,761.
For Dougherty the benefit figure was £37,877 and for Burns £16,870.
Both men were said to have the assets to pay in full.
Dan Cordey, for Dougherty, said the amount he had to pay would involve the sale of his house. Mr Cordey said there was £26,741 sitting in a bank account which had been frozen and subject to a restraining order.
He said Dougherty had now signed a document agreeing that this money could be released forthwith in order to meet the payment required.
Judge Peter Armstrong ordered that the realisable sums be confiscated from the three men, under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
They will have six months to pay and could be jailed for nine months if they default within that period.
Judge Armstrong said the amounts received would be paid by way of compensation to Zurich insurance company, Darlington Borough Council's insurers.
It is understood the council covered the cost of the fraud by claiming from the insurer.
When they were previously sentenced Skirving, Dougherty and Burns were described as extremely hard working and well thought-of, but having been responsible for a systematic fraud against the council.
Councillor Stephen Harker, the council's cabinet member for efficiency and resources, said: "We're pleased that the court has seen fit to ensure money stolen from the public purse will be repaid."
More Darlington News
- 'Couch-potato' dad to take on Three Peaks challenge to help son who suffers with muscle-wasting disease
- Darlington paedophile sobs as he’s sent to prison
- Darlington Credit Union wins cash to deliver finance lessons
- Darlington hair salon celebrates 30th anniversary with staff takeover
- Last call for residents to comment on Darlington Council's controversial budget cuts
- Darlington man jailed for threatening and kicking witness in court case against him
- Chance to see redevelopment plans for the River Skerne in Darlington
- Visitors enjoy a feast of vintage machinery at annual show
- Exotic animals to parade at community carnival
- Carving club leaves a lasting legacy of thanks