Scarborough finance manager stole £10,000 from university by using company credit card to buy movies, vouchers and train fares

A finance manager from Scarborough stole £10,000 from York University during a three-year thieving spree during which he used the departmental credit card for his own purchases.

Monday, 10th June 2019, 10:04 am
Adam Regis

Adam Gyrth Regis, 51, was given access to the university’s database on which the card details were stored as a “trusted” financial expert in the university’s Environmental Science Department.

But instead of using the card for legitimate business purposes, he bought movies on Amazon Prime, as well as gift vouchers and train fares, York Crown Court heard.

Regis kept up the ruse for over three-and-a-half years, until his bosses in the finance department noticed anomalies in the university’s accounts, namely unexplained purchases on the credit card which was supposed to be used solely for university expenses, said prosecutor Rob Galley.

An internal investigation was launched which revealed that Regis had not only been using the university’s credit card to buy Amazon and home-entertainment items but had also splashed over £3,800 on train journeys between Scarborough and York.

Investigators at the university found what they believed to be just over £15,800 worth of suspect transactions.

Regis, of Aberdeen Terrace, was charged with stealing £15,853 from his employer between January 2014 and September 2017. He admitted theft by employee at a previous hearing in April but on the basis that he only stole £10,000 or less because some of the money that had been spent on the card was genuine university expenditure.

The prosecution ultimately accepted Regis’s basis of plea but insisted that the overall loss to the university was “not less than £10,000”.

The former financial bigwig - who has a previous conviction for theft by employee from the 1990s, when he worked at a record store - appeared for sentence on Friday.

Mr Galley said Regis’s manager had given him a login password to access the university’s credit-card account for legitimate expenditure. She said she had trusted him and that he seemed “caring and likeable”.

But Regis, who had worked at the university for 12 years, “bypassed the usual authorisation process” which normally required two members of staff to countersign transactions.

University bosses didn’t suspect Regis until July 2017 when his departmental manager noticed the irregularities on the accounts. By this time five of Regis’s colleagues came under suspicion and were quizzed by university managers, who found they were completely innocent.

The accounts revealed “a series of Amazon transactions that appeared to include some Amazon Prime film purchases, gift vouchers, baby items and… a series of PayPal transactions that amounted to just over £4,000,” said Mr Galley.

Regis was sacked after being quizzed by university bosses in October 2017. He ultimately admitted the scam.

“He said he had been struggling financially for many years, working another job,” added Mr Galley.

“He said he had mental (health) problems (and that) his judgement had been blurred.”

Regis sent an email to his senior manager saying he had been suffering from “work pressures”.

“He (accepted) that he had used some of the (money) for personal travel and the Amazon account, and that there had been some cash advances to others,” said Mr Galley.

Andrea Parnham, for Regis, said: “He knows (his offending) had an impact on his colleagues but (also) a severe impact on his family.”

She said that Regis - who was crying and shaking in the dock - was struggling financially at the time and had an evening job as well as his university post to keep the family afloat.

“They were on a debt-management plan because they had got themselves into so much difficulty,” added Ms Parnham.

Regis was now working in a factory on minimum wage and was still on a debt-management plan.

Judge Simon Hickey said Regis had “managed to deceive a number of colleagues who trusted you by bypassing normal safety guards (to access the credit-card account)”.

He added, however, that Regis had had a “mental collapse” in 2015 when the family finances were spinning out of control and that his imprisonment would have a “significant” impact on his family, so he suspended the 16-month jail sentence for a year. Regis will also have to complete a 20-day rehabilitation programme.