North West Wales

Ex-Padarn Bus bosses jailed over £800k Gwynedd fraud

Darren Price and John Hulme Image copyright North Wales Police
Image caption Darren Price and John Hulme have both been handed prison terms for their part in the Padarn Bus fraud

Two bus company bosses have been jailed after falsely claiming £800,000 by lying about the number of concessionary fare passengers they carried.

Padarn Bus's John Hulme, 55, and Darren Price, 46, falsely claimed the money from Gwynedd council.

Hulme, found guilty of fraud and false accounting was sentenced to six years at Caernarfon Crown Court on Thursday.

Price had previously pleaded guilty to false accounting and was given two years and three months.

During his trial, the court heard that the firm's managing director Hulme, falsely claimed £495,857 from Gwynedd Council between July 2011 and December 2012.

Image caption Former Padarn Bus managing director John Hulme

When he was suspended on an unrelated matter, operations director Price carried on the fraud, falsely claiming £318,798.

Hulme's defence barrister Matthew Curtis said that the offences were not committed for personal gain, but to keep the company going.

Judge Merfyn Hughes QC said: "Any fraud of this magnitude is serious, not just because it was continued over a sustained period of time, but because it was against scarce public funds."

'Substantial impact'

The court heard that Padarn Bus went into liquidation after the offences were uncovered, with debts of £2.379m and the loss of 84 jobs.

Following the sentencing, senior investigating officer supt Iestyn Davies said the fraud had a "substantial impact" on the community in Llanberis, where Padarn was based.

As well as the jobs, he said the Welsh government lost £800,000 that was handed to the company through its concessionary fare scheme.

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