Electrician spent £16,500 paid in error after thinking it was furlough pay

People have been advised against using cash during the pandemic outbreak. Photo: James Bass

Daniel Green jailed for theft of £16,500 paid into his bank account by mistake - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2008

An electrician paid £16,500 by mistake used it to pay off debts and then claimed he thought it was a furlough payment, a court heard.

Daniel Green, 35, had in the past carried out work for Unique Electrical as a sub-contractor but Norwich Crown Court heard on Friday that by mistake £16,500 was paid into Green's account, instead of  to an electrical wholesaler.

Christopher Kerr, prosecuting, said when owner Troy Houghton discovered the error six days later he contacted Green only to be told that he had spent all the cash to pay off debts.

He said at first Green tried to claim that he thought the money had been paid to him as a furlough payment, but later admitted the theft.

In an impact statement, the owner said the loss of the cash had caused a great deal of stress and worry as the theft had a big impact on business cash flow and he had been forced to take out a loan.

He said the business had already been hit by Covid and lockdown when this happened and it had added to the strain but now was hoping to move on.

Green, of Norwich Road, North Runcton, admitted theft on April 8, 2020, and was jailed for nine months.

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Sentencing him, Recorder John Bate-Williams told Green that he found his excuse about  it being furlough cash as weak as the scheme had only just started up at the time.

He said: "Your reputation as an electrician will be badly harmed if not ruined by this dishonest offence."

He noted that there had been no offer to make any repayment of the cash and said it seemed highly unlikely he would be able to pay any money back.

Stephen Spence, for Green, said: "This was very much an opportunistic offence. It was not anything that was planned."

He said that Green had debts which he wanted to pay off and said: "He closed his eyes as to where it had come from and was robbing Peter to pay Paul."

He added: "The money was used to pay off debts rather than funding an opulent lifestyle."

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