Ellie Ames 19 February 2024

Former council worker jailed for fraud

Former council worker jailed for fraud  image
Image: PanicAttack / Shutterstock.com

A former council employee and a roofing firm worker have been jailed for fraud and bribery after they conspired to defraud New Forest District Council.

Former council maintenance operative Richard Cullen, 55, received bribes from 34-year-old Mark Diaper, who worked at a Southampton roofing company, which is no longer trading.

During 2018, Mr Cullen referred maintenance jobs to the roofing firm for a 10% cut in profit. Inflated invoices were submitted to the council for the work.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the council was overcharged by more than £88,000, but the total cost of jobs referred to the company was much higher.

Last week, Mr Cullen was jailed for 58 months and Mr Diaper for 32 months at Southampton Crown Court.

CPS unit head Kevin Hansford said: ‘This scam defrauded the council – and by default hard working taxpayers – out of a large amount of public money.

'As an employee, Cullen was expected to safeguard the financial interests of the council, instead he abused that trust.’

New Forest council chief executive Kate Ryan said: ‘This case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of vigilance and accountability.

‘As chief executive, it is both disheartening and unacceptable that such actions have taken place within our organisation.’

Ms Ryan said the authority would review the case again with a full report to its audit committee.

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