Wednesday 22 May 2024
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Trent Barton bus driver stole £74,000 from colleagues

A bus driver stole £74,000 from his employer and colleagues after racking up spiralling debts.

Andrew Berry joined Trent Barton in 2004 and went on to become one of its lead drivers.

The 37-year-old was a highly-regarded and trusted member of staff, but a court heard he abused that trust by stealing tens of thousands of pounds.

His crimes were discovered in March 2020 when he was furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In his absence, management went over the accounts and it became apparent Berry had been using his position to steal vast sums of money.

He was arrested and appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday (28 November) after pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position of trust and theft at a previous hearing.

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The court heard that as a lead driver, Berry was trusted to manage revenue from the firm’s Sutton Travel shop as well as its Busman club – a scheme whereby staff pay a monthly membership fee which gives them access to subsidised food and other benefits.

In 2017, a NatWest bank account was opened purely for the canteen funds. The court heard Berry, as a trusted staff member, was tasked with managing the account.

When Berry was placed on furlough, Trent Barton management examined the canteen bank statements and noticed a string of payments totalling £11,993 to a HSBC account, which was soon identified as Berry’s own personal account.

Berry was challenged on the matter and accepted responsibility. He then failed to attend any disciplinary meetings and was subsequently sacked from the company.

Nottinghamshire Police began an investigation and fraud officers found that multiple cash payments had been paid into Berry’s account between December 2016 and March 2020 from the Busman account.

During a police interview, Berry admitted to transferring sums of money from the Busman account to his own as he was struggling to pay huge debts. Berry also stated he stole money from the firm’s Sutton Travel Shop and pocketed the bus fares he took while driving.

The investigation found he stole £72,075 from Trent Barton and his colleagues in total.

Berry, of Willow Gardens, Sutton-in-Ashfield, was jailed for 18 months, suspended for two years. He must attend 25 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR) days and complete 100 hours unpaid work.

Following the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Marc Lancaster, of Nottinghamshire Police’s fraud investigation unit, said: “Berry held a significant position of trust and was highly regarded by his colleagues for many years.

“The fact he betrayed that trust over such a long period of time left came as a huge shock to his employers and it is right he was put in the dock to answer for his crimes.

“I hope this case demonstrates that fraud and theft is not the answer to debt problems and that there are no excuses for committing such offences.

“We would urge anyone who thinks someone they know or work with might be committing fraud to get in touch. This robust action and result shows just how seriously we take this and we will work tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice.”

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