Assistant manager of Leeds travel agents committed £18,000 fraud to fund gambling addiction

Assistant manager James Morris carried out 18,000 deception at Flight Centre, Briggate, Leeds
Assistant manager James Morris carried out 18,000 deception at Flight Centre, Briggate, Leeds
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An assistant manager at a Leeds travel agents carried out a fraud worth almost £18,000 to fund his gambling addiction.

James Morris abused his trusted position at Flight Centre by diverting customer payments for holiday and flights into his own bank account.

Leeds Crown Court heard Morris carried out the deception over an eight month period between September last year and April this year.

Morris earned £34,000 a year, was well liked by his employers and would be trusted to be in charge when the manager was away.

Prosecutor Andrew Horton said: "By all accounts he was great at his job."

Morris's offending came to light when the manager notice that procedures had not been followed by the defendant.

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An audit took place at the business premises in Briggate which revealed financial discrepancies.

Morris's e-mails were checked which revealed he had given customers his own bank account details.

Sums were paid into the defendant's bank account on seven occasions.

The total value of the offending was £17,908.

Mr Horton said Morris's offending did not affect customers.

They were still able to go on holiday and catch flights. The entire loss was to the Flight Centre.

Morris resigned from his job when the offending came to light.

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Mr Horton said: "He was interviewed and accepted responsibility 100 percent.

"He said he was in debt, had no money and it seemed life a quick fix.

Morris, of Riverside Appartments, Whitehall Road, Leeds, pleaded guilty to fraud.

Victoria Smith-Swain, mitigating, said Morris had committed the offences when he was in the grip of a gambling addiction.

She said Morris was now being supported by a charity which is helping him to tackle his gambling problem.

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Miss Smith-Swain said: "This offending was totally out of character for Mr Morris and a blip on a somewhat law abiding and respectable life."

The court heard Morris has a new job and is addressing his financial problems with the help of his girlfriend.

Miss Smith-Swain said Morris intended to repay the money to Flight Centre.

Judge Simon Morris, QC, said: "It was because you were trusted and because you were capable that you were able to perpetrate this fraud over the period of time that you did without causing suspicion to fall upon yourself."

Morris was given a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for 24 months, and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.