A former financial director has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for defrauding three employers out of a combined £475,000, including asset management firm Capital Properties and developer Commercial Estates Group.
Manchester Crown Court heard yesterday how David Lawson, who pleaded guilty to the three counts of fraud, embezzled the money while working as a financial controller at CEG between 2005 and 2012, financial director at Capital Properties between 2012 and 2015, and during a brief stint at retailer Sports Shoes in 2016.
Lawson’s prison time is made up of three sentences running concurrently; 40 months for offences while he was at Capital, 24 months for offences while he was at CEG, and 12 months for offences while at Sports Shoes. However, the sentence was reduced by a third to reflect the fact that Lawson pleaded guilty.
While at CEG, Lawson stole £128,000 from the company in 21 payments. During his time at Capital Properties, he transferred himself £301,000 in 24 payments over the course of two years.
The money was stolen through a variety of methods; by editing invoices, making personal payments on company credit cards, creating fake employees, and paying fake suppliers.
Manchester-based Capital Properties was the estates management arm of developer Allied London. Former managing director Mark Burgess departed the company in 2015, and Lawson was briefly made interim managing director, before departing the company himself at the end of 2015. It was while Lawson’s redundancy package was being negotiated that the irregularities were discovered.
Following Capital, Lawson started working for Yorkshire-based Sports Shoes in July 2016. He was arrested in September, but continued to work for Sports Shoes while on bail, and fraudulently took £34,500 from the company.
In an attempt to escape the charges, Lawson moved to South Africa in November 2016, but returned to the UK and was arrested at Manchester Airport in March this year.
According to Lawson’s defence lawyer, the money had been used to support Lawson’s family’s lifestyle, funding holidays, private school fees, and credit card bills.
In court, Judge Michael Leeming described Lawson’s fraudulent activities as “prolific” over the six-year period.
A spokesperson from CEG said: “We were aware of the case and assisted the police with investigations.”
All other parties were contacted, and declined or were unavailable to comment.