A car salesman who was given a “second chance” after attempting to cover up his criminal past has been jailed after stealing £128,770 from Listers Mercedes-Benz in Grimsby.
Grimsby Crown Court heard how 49-year-old Darren Thornton, of Marlborough Drive, Scunthorpe, had been sacked by another branch for covering up his convictions but was handed a £58,000 job after the dealership decided to give him a chance.
The show of faith proved misplaced, however, when Thornton admitted taking the six-figure sum via fraud and money laundering between May 1, 2015 and June 3 last year.
The Grimsby Telegraph reported that Craig Lowe, prosecuting, told a hearing how Thornton had been employed at the Mercedes-Benz Hull dealership for about a month in 2014 before his dismissal for failing to disclose his convictions.
Lowe added that the “Grimsby dealership gave him a chance" and employed him as a sales executive, selling cars on a salary of £58,000 a year with a company car.
Dealer principal Steve Kilford was told by a sales executive a short time later that Thornton had taken £8,000 cash from a customer and paid it into his personal account, however.
After concerns were raised about another £15,000 Thornton confessed, telling his employers to go to the police before blaming gambling debts from his past as the trigger of his stealing.
Lowe said: “The defendant took skilful steps to cover his tracks to prevent the fraud being discovered.
“When a car was due to be delivered, he would sell another car to balance the books."
Mr Kilford later said in a statement that it was not just the financial loss that hit the company but the “impact on the company's reputation and staff".
Thornton had convictions for 41 previous offences dating back to 1992 and had previously been jailed for handling stolen goods and drugs offences.
Steve Kilford “knew what had happened" in Hull – when Thornton was sacked by the Mercedes-Benz franchise there – but was “prepared to give the defendant a chance" with a “good job" on a “comfortable salary" and a car.
Jailing Thornton for three years, Judge Mark Bury said: “I am sure Mr Kilford bitterly regrets trusting you when he knew that others wouldn't do so."