Cashier who stole over £78,000 from Castle Howard by issuing false 'refunds' ordered to repay full sum

A rogue cashier has been ordered to repay over £78,000 which he stole from the famous Castle Howard estate in Malton.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 9:11 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 10:57 am

Robert Hookway, 72, appeared at York Crown Court on Monday when judge Sean Morris ordered him to repay the vast sum to the estate, which was the set for the Brideshead Revisited TV series in the 1980s.

Mr Morris, the Recorder of York, told Hookway he must repay the full £78,670 he stole from the estate over a six-year period.

The huge financial confiscation follows Hookway’s 20-month jail sentence in October after a jury found him guilty of nine counts of theft by employee.

Castle Howard.

The court heard that Hookway - described as “well-off” - cheated his bosses, the Howard family, by siphoning over £78,000 in mainly small, daily amounts between 2012 and 2018 while working on the tills in the castle’s public pay booth and ticket office.

The pensioner pocketed between £31 and £668 a day by issuing false customer ‘refunds’ which he kept for himself.

He claimed he used the money to fund private health care for his wife.

In 2004 the couple moved from Reading to a refurbished 16th -century home in Malton, which they renovated completely.

Hookway, of Braygate Street, Swinton, also spent thousands on new cars and expensive holidays, although he claimed this was “financed legitimately” through the cashing in of pension plans and part-exchange deals.

Prosecutor Paul Nicholson said Hookway had been employed at Castle Howard since February 2005, ostensibly as part of the security team, but effectively working as a cashier.

Hookway appeared to be a model employee, but a routine till check by an accountant in August 2018 showed he was nothing of the sort, and that “something was going drastically wrong”.

CCTV footage showed him taking cash from a customer which ended up in his own pocket after he cancelled the transaction and issued a ‘refund’.

Over the six-year period, Hookway had been taking out an average of £1,612 a month.

He had four previous convictions dating back to the 1960s. His last conviction was for obtaining property by deception in 1973.

Defence barrister Julian Goode said Hookway was full of “remorse and shame for these acts”.

Hookway’s wife was in poor health and the stress she had suffered due to her husband’s actions had been “considerable”.

He will serve half of his 20-month sentence behind bars before being released on prison licence.