North West Wales

Former Padarn Bus chief denies fraud involving over £800,000

John Hulme

A former Gwynedd bus company boss has gone on trial accused of fraud and false accounting.

John David Hulme, 55, denies charges which relate to more than £800,000 in public money paid to Padarn Bus Ltd in claims for concessionary fares.

The offences allegedly occurred between July 2011 and December 2012, before he was suspended as the firm's managing director on an unrelated matter.

The trial is being held at Caernarfon Crown Court.

Judge Merfyn Hughes QC told the jury a fraud existed but added: "You have to decide whether Mr Hulme was involved in it. That's the issue you will want to concentrate on throughout the case."

The prosecution counsel told jurors fraudulent claims totalling £814,655.78 were made between July 2011 and March 2014 when the fraud came to light.

The total, which had been falsely claimed by the company at the point Mr Hulme, from Caernarfon, was suspended in December 2012 was £495,857.08.

The jury heard a second man, Darren Price, of Llanrug, the operations manager at Padarn Bus Ltd, had already pleaded guilty to charges relating to fraud offences.

Mr Hulme was "intimately" involved although he claimed he had become suspicious that something wrong was going on before he was suspended, prosecutor Matthew Dunford said.

The fraud allegation against Mr Hulme involves making false representations to Gwynedd council over concessionary fare passenger numbers.

The second charge involves a falsified document presented to the council.

Jurors were told Padarn Bus Ltd was formed in 2009 when Padarn Bus and KMP buses merged and it was a "substantial local company" employing 79 staff with a fleet of 43 buses.

But Mr Dunford said the company had borrowed heavily at the time of the merger and by 2011 it owed money to the taxman.

Chartered accountant Simon Thelwall-Jones was brought in to help out and the fraud came to light when operations manager Price told him: "I have got something to tell you."

The accountant immediately contacted Gwynedd Council and police were also informed.

The trial continues.

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