Essex

Man jailed for £3.8m Basildon company fraud

Paul Hawkridge Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Paul Hawkridge stole money to fund his gambling and pay his mortgage off early

An accounts manager who stole £3.8m from a shipping company, causing 30 redundancies, has been jailed.

Paul Hawkridge, 37, forced Orient Worldwide Shipping Ltd into liquidation to fund his gambling lifestyle.

Hawkridge, of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, was sentenced to six years in prison for fraud and money laundering at Basildon Crown Court.

Det Con Angie Coxon, of Essex Police, said his behaviour had been "selfish, calculative and devious".

Hawkridge had worked for the family-run firm in Basildon since he was 18.

He was initially arrested in July 2016 but admitted taking the money and covering it up in October.

'Devious'

The court heard that since 2011, Hawkridge had been creating bulk payments to the company then transferring deposits into his own personal account.

Most of the money had been gambled away but he also used the cash to make overpayments on his mortgage, enabling him to pay it off 15 years early.

Det Con Coxon said Hawkridge's actions were "selfish, calculative and devious" and had a "massive impact" on his victims.

"He stole millions of pounds from the very employers who took him under their wing and helped train and support him emotionally and financially," she said.

"The reputation of an upstanding company has been destroyed and his colleagues were also left redundant by his actions."

Det Con Coxon also confirmed that Essex Police hoped to "claw back" some of the stolen funds by submitting an application under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

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