A showroom manager who pocketed £246,000 in cash swindled from the sale of his employer's used car stock has been jailed for 30 months.
Michael Melhuish, depot manager at SHB in Exeter, sold 23 vehicles privately and another 28 below their true value to a dealer as part of the deception, the Exeter Express and Echo reported.
The 35-year-old, of Brookfield Gardens, Exeter, who had falsified part exchange records so he could sell cars and pocket the money and kept a £13,000 Land Rover Defender for himself – even getting the company to pay £2,281 for servicing and repair – pleaded guilty to fraud during a hearing at Exeter Crown Court.
The court heard how overweight Melhuish spent the cash on expensive gym equipment, top of the range bicycles and thousands of pounds on lottery tickets in the hope of being able to repay the missing money.
Gordon Richings, prosecuting, told the hearing that SHB’s senior management team discovered the extent of Melhuish’s after spotting one of their vehicles for sale on a forecourt in Sidmouth and launching their own investigation.
Peter Coombe, defending, said Melhuish had been suffering from depression and had spent money on things which made him feel better.
Melhuish, who is now receiving medical help for his condition, was jailed for 30 months by Judge Graham Cottle.