'He almost destroyed my life': Scarborough man Martin Weaver stole £12,000 from hotel where he was a manager
A crooked hotel manager who landed the job by posing as a “cheeky chappie” has been jailed for 12 months after stealing more than £12,000 from his employer during a five-month crime spree.
Martin Weaver, 44, from Scarborough, ingratiated himself with hotel owner Loraine Hillier to the point where she trusted him “completely”, York Crown Court heard.
But while Weaver seemed for all the world to be the model employee, behind the scenes he was pilfering from the hotel on a grand scale, said prosecutor Peter Byrne.
He said Weaver’s fraud came to light after Mrs Hillier, owner of the Richmoor Hotel in Weymouth, Dorset, was informed by a business associate that there were some shady goings-on with the Scarborough man, with whom he was about to go into business.
Mrs Hillier, who thought Weaver was a kind-hearted, “cheeky chappie” when she hired him in March 2017, noticed that more than £3,000 of payments had been made to a wholesaler with the hotel credit card between February and July 2018.
“Mrs Hillier…had (also) noticed an unusual amount of refunds from the (chip-and-pin) machines used by customers at the hotel,” added Mr Byrne.
In his management role, Weaver was entrusted with supervising the card machine which meant he had access to customers' refunds, said Mr Byrne.
Growing increasingly suspicious, Mrs Hillier contacted the card-machine provider and queried the refunds. Her investigations revealed that between February and June 2018, some 28 refunds worth £5,198 had been made to a bank card in Weaver’s name.
A different card received 11 refunds worth £3,975 between June 10 and July 18, again in Weaver’s name.
He used the hotel’s credit card to pay about £600 to a caravan park for storing his vehicle during a massive spending splurge.
By the end of the fraud spree, Weaver had stolen £12,656 from his employer. When Mrs Hiller and her husband confronted him about it, Weaver said: “I’m sorry; it’s all my fault. I take full blame.”
Upon his arrest, officers found items in the boot of his car which he had bought from Bookers wholesale business with the stolen money.
Mrs Hillier - long-time owner of the magnificent, stone-built seafront hotel - joined the court proceedings via video link from her home in Dorset, to see her nemesis get his comeuppance.
She said she was having serious personal difficulties at the time and her finances were “very difficult”.
“When I interviewed Martin (Weaver, for the job), I was really impressed by the way he spoke and conducted himself and (he had) a great CV,” she added.
She was so impressed she made him assistant manager with responsibility for the hotel’s finances.
She said her suspicions began when Weaver started spending lots of money, which she found “surprising”.
“It was very difficult knowing that this man was continuing to steal from me day after day,” she said.
“My life became hell.”
She was convinced she would lose her business due to the financial and “considerable” psychological effect that Weaver’s duplicity had had on her.
“This man was like family (to me) and I can’t tell you how hurt I was and how completely fooled I was by this ‘cheeky-chappie’ personality,” she added.
“He almost destroyed my life. I’ve had two-and-a-half years of hell.”
Weaver, of Gladstone Road, Scarborough, stayed silent when quizzed by police but ultimately admitted fraud. He appeared for sentence on Thursday.
The court heard he had previous convictions for similar offences from the late 1990s.
Taryn Turner, mitigating, said Weaver had a raft of serious illnesses and was undergoing dialysis treatment.
She said the father-of-two had led an otherwise “hard-working” life but had “abused the trust” of Mrs Hillier and her family.
She said that Weaver, who is divorced, had been finding it “extremely difficult” to cope with difficulties in his own life.
Judge Simon Hickey said Mrs Hillier had been “completely taken in” by Weaver.
He told the defendant: “You had access to her hotel computer system and her hotel (bank) cards. Finally, to her horror, she discovered you were using the hotel credit card.
“She was a hard-working lady; she trusted you completely. This has had a significant, detrimental effect upon her, both financially and on her relationships.”
Mr Hickey said although Weaver was in a bad state of mind at the time due to the collapse of his marriage and serious health problems, “it can only be an immediate custodial sentence for defrauding a lady in this way”.
Weaver was given a 12-month jail sentence, of which he will serve half behind bars before being released on licence.