'Devious and calculating' accounts manager Abeyomi Ogunagbadaro (left) who stole £23,000 from a TV star Alison Cork's (right) home improvements company was jailed for 16 months today
A 'devious and calculating' accounts manager who stole £23,000 from a TV star's home improvements company was jailed for 16 months today [Feb. 24]. Abeyomi Ogunagbadaro, 44, had only been working at home expert Alison Cork's Alison At Home furniture business in Regent Street, central London, for six weeks when he started stealing from the firm. The financial controller, who was on a £42,000-a-year salary, had access to the company's online bank account and was able to launder payments via two innocent friends he duped into giving him their bank details.
Mother-of-two Ms Cork, 51, has appeared in a number of home and garden shows and is best known for her ITV series 'Don't Move, Improve'. Ogunagbadaro, who started work at the company Alison At Home on March 4 last year, admitted one charge of fraud by abuse of position and was jailed for 16 months when he appeared in front of Southwark Crown Court today.
The fraud was only discovered after Ogunagbadaro had left the company in May of that year. Peter Zinner, prosecuting, said: 'This was a very sophisticated, pre-planned fraud by a devious and calculating defendant who abused his position as a financial controller to his own financial gain. 'The offence, say the Crown, was aggravated by the use of various lies and by the involvement of two innocent people in an attempt to launder, or disguise, where the monies were being transferred to. 'Those two innocent people were put in the threat of prosecution by their unwitting involvement.'
|Abeyomi Ogunagbadaro, 44, had only been working at home expert Alison Cork's Alison At Home furniture business, based on the third floor of this building in Regent Street, central London, for six weeks when he started stealing from the firm|
Mr Zinner told the court that soon after starting with Alison At Home, Ogunagbadaro had made a number of mistakes, but had tried to cover this up by pretending that a young relative had died. 'His employment commenced on the 4 March 2014, but there were immediately problems during his probation period with accounting errors and processing errors which resulted in him being spoken to by supervisors,' Mr Zinner said.
'To elicit sympathy from his employers the defendant lied about illness and death of a child in his family and because of that he was given a little bit of latitude and time off.' However, the story was a sham and there had been no death or illness in his family. 'As his performance was not good he parted company, it seems amicably, with Alison At Home on May 7 but shortly afterwards the owners of the company decided they would do an audit and in particular they were concerned about three unrecognised transfers,' said Mr Zinner.
|Mother-of-two Ms Cork, 51, (pictured) has |
appeared in a number of home and garden
shows and is best know for her ITV series
'Don't Move, Improve'
Two payments of £4,000 each were made to Vanessa Murphy and a further £15,000 was sent to Daniel Collen. 'The two payments were made without the consent or authority of the accountants signing off at Alison At Home, the recipients of the funds were not related to the business and suspicion fell on Mr Ogunagbadaro as he had actioned all the transfers.' Ogunagbadaro had tricked his friends into receiving the money by telling them he wanted to conceal a bonus payment from his family and lying that he needed help keeping the cash because he had a drug problem, the court was told.
But Charles Shelton, mitigating, said there was 'still a chance of redemption' for his client.'The whole situation is highly regrettable,' he said. 'We have here a man who was in a downward spiral of drink and drugs that reach its nadir.'
He said Ogunagbadaro only spent '10 per cent' of the money on himself and used the rest to fund 'the shallow circle of friends who he doesn't hang out with any more'. But none of the money has ever been recovered and Ogunagbadaro has not paid a penny back.
Judge Martin Beddoe said the fraudster was a 'mature and educated man'. 'Very shortly after starting a trusted job on a very good salary employed as a financial controller for this firm, you gained access to their online banking system,' he said. 'You were trusted to use it for the purposes of your job and you abused their trust in you by setting up the transfer for funds totalling £23,000 from your employer's accounts.'
The judge added it took Ogunagbadaro only six weeks to set up the 'apparatus to defraud'. 'Apart from the seriousness of the deceit of your employers and the very considerable breach of trust as far as they are concerned, to commit this crime you had to trick, and did trick, with elaborate lies two friends of yours,' said Judge Beddoe. 'It was in my judgement a sophisticated fraud, sophisticated enough to be given that description and it involved gross breaches of trust along the way.
'There was nothing reckless about your conduct Mr Ogunagbadaro, it was quite purposive and deliberate.' The judge also criticised the defendant for blaming alcohol and cocaine as 'excuses latched on to'. Ogunagbadaro, of Kilburn, north west London, was led to the cells carrying his belongings in a Louis Vuitton rucksack.