A man has been jailed for two and a half years after admitting to stealing thousands of pounds from a coastal bed and breakfast where he worked as a manager.

Ricky Lee Stevenson, 34, of Glastonbury Road, Skelton in Cleveland, was sentenced on Wednesday (June 21) at York Crown Court following a guilty plea earlier this year. 

The thefts occurred at a bed and breakfast accommodation and holiday chalets in Hinderwell, to the north of Whitby, in 2020.

The business was left "on the brink of collapse" by Stevenson's thefts, as it was surviving only on Government-baked Covid loans at the time. 

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The owner of the holiday lets only discovered the thefts in 2020 when warning letters from utility companies and business-to-business providers about unpaid bills started to show up on the doorstep. 

Stevenson initially explained the lack of funds in the account was down to guests failing to turn up due to the Covid restrictions at that time.

However, when the owner confronted Stevenson in January 2021, the defendant broke down and admitted to using the money to fund his cocaine addiction and gambling.

The matter was reported to North Yorkshire Police and an extensive investigation was undertaken by Scarborough and Ryedale CID.

Stevenson was arrested at the beginning of February 2021 when he was interviewed and released on bail.

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Led by Police Staff Investigator Rob Henderson, with support from the Financial Investigation Unit, the inquiry secured evidence which proved Stevenson had stolen £70,000 from the business.

However, in court, Stevenson’s guilty plea for stealing an amount totalling £40,000 was accepted by the prosecution.

Stevenson got his hands on the money in the form of bank transactions to his personal account, cheques made out to himself, cash withdrawals using the business card, and taking cash payments directly from guests who were told the card machine was out of order.

Following the sentencing, Police Staff Investigator Henderson said: “Ricky Stevenson was a close acquaintance of the owner who placed him in a position of trust to manage the holiday business and even let him live rent-free on the site where he worked.

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“He breached this trust in a most outrageous and calculated way for his own selfish gain.

“Stevenson’s actions almost brought about the collapse of the business and caused untold upset and stress for the owner at a time when the business was surviving on Covid loans due to the restrictions in place.

“It is pleasing that he has been brought to justice and is now facing up to the consequences of his actions.”