Managing director Mike Noble had stored the collection of jewellery and the cash in a safe at his Brighouse firm RA Technology Limited, but last August workers Connor McCaffrey and Jordan Nettleship used a key from his office to steal the contents over a three-day period.
Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday how Nettleship put a piece of paper over a CCTV camera, but the pair’s discussions about stealing from the safe and selling on the jewellery were recorded by other equipment at the premises.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Noble said the theft of the jewellery, which included items of high sentimental value, had been “a hammer blow” to him and his wife because the collection, amassed over 36 years, had been intended to be their pension fund.
After their arrests Nettleship, 24, of Park Square, Northowram, Halifax, branded Mr Noble “a compulsive liar” while 21-year-old McCaffrey, of Buxton Street, Lee Mount, Halifax, said the accusation against him was “a joke”.
McCaffrey went on to falsely suggest that their victim had been trying to defraud his insurance company.
Prosecutor Duncan Ritchie said McCaffrey accepted being “up to his eyeballs in debt”, but he denied stealing from the safe.
In March the pair both pleaded guilty to the theft although they disputed the value of the stolen property until recently.
Mr Noble said in his statement that the two men, who had previously been unemployed, were an important part of the family business and both enjoyed a position of trust within the firm.
He said in the past both men had been given interest-free loans to help with financial problems and their crime had caused difficulties for the company as well as health problems and sleepless nights for himself and his wife.
Mr Noble said the theft had changed the Halifax couple’s life forever and neither of the defendants had helped them to try and get the uninsured jewellery back.
His wife Jan, who is also a director with the company, lost her engagement and wedding rings in the theft and she described the crime as callous.
She said she would never get over it and never be able to wear her jewellery at future family events.
Judge David Hatton QC was urged to consider suspended jail sentences for both defendants because of their previous character and guilty pleas, but he told the two men they had “utterly abused” the significant amount of trust placed in them.
Jailing each of them for 22 months, he added:”It was not, I accept, a sophisticated affair, but equally it was not spontaneous.
“It was planned to the extent that you discussed more than once what to do and what to take and the offence was committed over a period of three days involving I am told no less than seven visits over that period of time to the safe.
“You then persisted, once you had been apprehended, in suggesting that not only was the allegation false, but that your employer was in the process of perpetrating a fraud.
“You have assisted in no way in the recovery of any of those goods and I have detected no remorse.”
Judge Hatton said in addition to the significant financial loss the victims had also suffered significant stress.
“This offence was so grave, in my judgement, and the breach of trust so despicable and the consequences so severe that only an immediate custodial sentence can be appropriate,” he told the two men.
McCaffrey and Nettleship are due to face further proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act later this year which could result in any assets they have being seized.