CFO transferred over £18,000 in fraudulent payments to his own accounts

A man who authorized thousands of pounds of fraudulent payments into his own accounts in just five months as finance director of a leisure business has escaped jail.

Jason Cherrington had pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud by breach of trust while working for Active Nation UK Ltd at Hatton Rock Business Park near Warwick.

Cherrington, 37, of Frederick Neal Avenue, Eastern Green, Coventry, was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years, with drug addiction and rehabilitation activity.

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Sentencing him at Warwick Crown Court, recorder Penelope Stanistreet-Keen also imposed an 8pm-6am curfew for two months to ‘make sure you don’t disappear on a bender’ and told him ordered to pay £340 in costs.

Prosecutor Raj Punia said Cherrington was employed as a chief financial officer by Active Nation, which operates sports and fitness facilities across the country, in April 2019.

But he was fired in September of the same year because he had failed his probationary period – and it was only after he left that his dishonesty was exposed.

His job had given him access to company finances and he was allowed to make payments of up to £2,500.

The person who reprized his role noticed an unusual payment reference, supposedly made to a supplier called J Foy for £2,472 – but not made in the normal form.

A check was then made on Cherrington’s bank account which had a credit that appeared to match this payment.

Realizing it was not a genuine transaction, an investigation was opened which showed that in August and September 2019, Cherrington made 12 bogus payments totaling £18,637.

Of these, 11 were paid into two of his personal accounts, while the 12th payment of £2,423 was paid into that of a friend who was later spoken to by police.

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He explained that Cherrington asked to use his account, which he agreed to, not suspecting anything dishonest, and then wired the money to Cherrington.

When Cherrington was arrested, he said in 2019 he gambled and drank more than he ever had, struggled with debt and fully admitted what he had done.

William Douglas-Jones, defending, said: “Mr. Cherrington admitted his conduct in an interview fully and frankly, and my mitigation focuses on the suspension of any custodial sentence Your Honor deems appropriate.

“It was about nine months between the interview and the first court appearance, so this case had been hanging over him for some time.”

He said Cherrington’s previous drink-driving conviction was “indicative of his drinking problems” and that at the time he was gambling in an attempt to resolve his debt issues.

Mr Douglas-Jones said Cherrington now had a new job and did not tell his employer about the matter when he pleaded but had now done so and had to attend a meeting with a manager – but hoped to keep his job.

He had also initially failed to tell his 19-year-old partner, who is a lawyer, and, with a young son, she would struggle if he was not around.

And Mr Douglas-Jones said that although there was no formal claim for compensation, Cherrington had indicated he could afford to pay £400 a month.

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Sentencing Cherrington, recorder Stanistreet-Keen told him: ‘You have over a period of five weeks defrauded this company out of £18,637.

“You had taken the money because your personal debts were out of control due to your gambling and heavy drinking.

“I am concerned that you continued to work in the financial sector and did not tell your employer about it.

“I’m told you’ve done it now, but you’re used to only telling the truth when you have no alternative.

“I know little about the impact on the business, but no business can lose that amount of money without impact.”

Telling him that she was ready to suspend the sentence, she added: “It seems to me that you are at a crossroads. The curfew is to make sure you don’t disappear on a bender for days at a time.

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