Man stole £153,000 from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital charity fund to ‘finance his chronic alcoholism’
PUBLISHED: 16:51 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:30 13 October 2017
A former staff member at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has been jailed 32 months for a “mean and despicable” theft of £153,000 from the hospital’s charitable fund.
Steven Hart, 42, claimed he stole the cash over a six-year period to pay for his chronic alcohol addiction and covered up by faking invoices and forging signatures for payments.
But a Norwich Crown Court judge said that he found it hard to accept that he had blown all the cash on alcohol.
Hart, 42, of Arlington Close, Attleborough, admitted theft of £152,697 from an endowment account at the hospital.
Jude Durr, prosecuting, said suspicions were aroused at the hospital and when checks were made it was discovered that Hart, who administered payments, had paid cheques either directly into his account or used cheques to pay his credit card.
When confronted he admitted what he had done and also confessed to taking cash over the six-year period from January 2011 to November 2016.
Mr Durr said Hart had worked at the hospital for 20 years and was on a salary of around £28,000 a year at the time of his arrest for taking cash from the fund, which was used to help medical research and provide extra care for the sick.
Andrew Oliver, for Hart, said: “He was a chronic alcoholic and drinking every day. This is not the sort of case where money has gone on luxury or lavish lifestyle. He has consumed it in alcohol.”
He said Hart had since accessed help for his drinking and his anxiety: “He used the alcohol to self-medicate himself.”
He said that Hart was full of remorse and felt he had let his partner and family down as well as the hospital trust, including everyone who had donated cash.
Mr Oliver said that the thefts would have always been traced back to him.
Jailing him, Judge Stephen Holt said that it was “mean and despicable” to steal from a charity and said he did not accept that he had spent £700 a week on alcohol.
He said: “It cannot have all gone on alcohol. It is not possible unless you were buying the most expensive red wines.”
He said Hart was in breach of a position of trust and said he would be failing in his public duty if he did not jail him.