Man wrongly paid £44,000 blew thousands on drugs, alcohol and clothes

Scarborough Magistrates' Court
Scarborough Magistrates' Court

A Scarborough man who was wrongly paid more than £44,000 is facing a huge bill after blowing thousands on cocaine, alcohol, clothes and gambling.

Steven Burke of Grosvenor Crescent thought he had been the victim of “cyber crime” when he found £44,660 in his Barclays bank account on January 29.

Rather than report the error, the 43-year-old tried to live a Kanye West lifestyle before the police and authorities eventually caught up with him.

He pleaded guilty to receiving wrongful credit at a hearing at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court on Monday and is set to be landed with a bill of more than £28,000 for the money he spent.

Katy Varlow, prosecuting, told the court the Burke had carried out some work for a York-based construction firm and had been expecting a payment of £446.60.

“However,” she said, “the director accidently typed in the wrong amount and Mr Burke received more than £44,000.

She added: “He spent the money on a car, an electronic-cigarette, hotel rooms, designer clothes, a gold chain, cocaine and vodka as well as online gambling.

“In total, he spent more than £28,000 and approximately £15,000 was recovered.”

The court heard how Burke received an email from his employer telling him about the mistake but he could not remember when he saw the email.

Mrs Varlow added that Burke failed to the “proper” thing and report the mistake to the bank as soon as he realised that he had been overpaid.

“Mr Burke said he believed he had been the victim of a cyber crime when he was interviewed by the police,” she said.

However, Burke was unable to say why he did not pay back the money or make anyone aware of the overpayment.

Burke was bailed to be sentenced at York Crown Court on July 25 as the magistrates’ court’s sentencing powers do not allow it to make a fine big enough to cover the money he spent.

He could also be facing a prison sentence on top of having to repay the £28,000.

Mitigation for Burke’s actions will be offered during the crown court sentencing hearing.