A DIRECTOR defrauded the Bournemouth construction company he worked for out of thousands of pounds to fund his gambling addiction.

Mark John Parsons abused his position as operations director of GR Westbuild Ltd over a 10-month period.

Parsons, of Garfield Close, Bishop’s Waltham, instructed customers to pay him directly in cash or arranged for invoices to be paid into his personal bank account.

A hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court on Tuesday, March 2, was told this money, in the region of £40,000, was used by the 40-year-old defendant in a failed attempt to win back money he had lost gambling.

The defendant was jailed for two years and two months after admitting charges of fraud by false representation and fraud by abuse of position.

Sentencing Judge Robert Pawson said Parsons’s actions were “appalling” and had a “really significant” impact on GR Westbuild Ltd.

The judge said the company was “wholly blameless” and “simply the victim in this case”.

Prosecuting, Althea Brooks said a customer contacted the construction company in June 2019 with concerns that she had paid the defendant directly for work that had been carried out.

The court heard the business had not received these funds and a deleted email thread involving Parsons was discovered which included fake invoices and requests for cash payments.

The defendant was confronted on June 24, 2019, and he presented a signed faster payment request, but this was proved to have been fraudulent.

He did not turn up for work the following day, sending an email entitled “sorry”.

Mrs Brooks said: “He resigned and he explained he used the money for gambling debts.”

The total sum obtained by Parsons, which has not been paid back, came from customers in Corfe Mullen, Ferndown and Poole.

The defendant confessed his guilt in a voluntary police interview, giving a full account of what happened.

A business impact statement from GR Westbuild Ltd said as a result of the crime staff had been laid off, others had their hours reduced, there were issues paying suppliers and the managing director had to put in £40,000 of his own money to support the company.

The court was told staff were “devastated” and customers had lost trust in a business which had built a good reputation over 19 years.

Parsons, who was unrepresented in court, had become addicted to gambling around five years ago, mainly betting on fixed-odds football markets.

He said he had not sought help for his addiction and was attempting to deal with it himself.

The judge said it would be advisable for him to get help but he acknowledged his genuine remorse and shame.

“He was chasing debts and, like everyone else who chases debts through gambling, he lost,” said Judge Pawson.

The judge told the defendant after he is released from prison “you need to put this behind you and move on. You must look into getting some form of treatment.”