Ex-Thatchers employee sentenced for faking orders to steal cider

PUBLISHED: 05:00 23 August 2019

Thatchers cider is sold around the world. Picture: Neil Phillips Photography.

Thatchers cider is sold around the world. Picture: Neil Phillips Photography.

Neil Phillips Photography

A ‘trusted’ Thatchers employee was caught stealing cider by faking customer orders and having them delivered to his home in Weston.

Martin Thatcher (right) was involved in the investigation into Colin King.Martin Thatcher (right) was involved in the investigation into Colin King.

Colin King worked for the cidermaker in Sandford for five years before his fraudulent ways were discovered.

He had bottles of cider sent to his Walliscote Road home, but his deceit was uncovered following an internal investigation, involving managing director Martin Thatcher.

Judge Julian Lambert spared King a prison sentence at Bristol Crown Court yesterday (Thursday), despite describing King's crime as 'extraordinary'.

The court was told King had made 'catastrophic' mistakes and was fired by Thatchers.

King pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position, although prosecutor Ian Fenny said the crime was of low-value and effectively a theft.

King was employed by Thatchers as a mail order co-ordinator and responsible for dealing with online purchases and their delivery.

Mr Fenny said King, due to his seniority, was able to create fake orders under a false name, but for his own address.

But in 2017 the company received anonymous calls notifying it somebody was stealing.

Mr Fenny said a 'discrete' investigation began, culminating in a spot-check on King by Mr Thatcher in December 2017.

Cases of cider were discovered in King's car and his explanation was deemed 'unsatisfactory' by the company, Mr Fenny said.

A police investigation revealed the scale of King's deceit, with cider worth £516.40 stolen for personal use.

Alec Small, defending, said King was dealing with difficult personal circumstances at the time, including family illness, and it led to his 'catastrophic' mistakes.

He said: "The real shock for the complainants wasn't that someone was stealing, but it was Mr King.

"This unfortunately isn't an uncommon thing, but the shock was Mr King was involved.

"This man (King) was of good character. He's thrown away a lifetime of having a good name."

Mr Small said his client's crime was unsophisticated.

He said: "It's one thing to use a fake name, it's another to use your own address.

"It wasn't something he'd carefully considered."

King, aged 60, could have been jailed, but Judge Lambert ordered him to carry out 160 hours' unpaid work and pay £500 compensation and £1,000 costs.

Judge Lambert, sentencing King, said: "It's an extraordinary offence for you to commit - you are a man who has lived a proper lifestyle, somebody who was trusted.

"You have lost your job and will have the associated stigma of someone who has behaved in this way."

King, who was supported by his family at the court, has got a job as a hotel porter since being dismissed by Thatchers.

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