Manager defrauded Bombardier of €774,000 to buy Harley-Davidsons and US holidays

A train manufacturing boss in the UK has been jailed for six years after using almost £700,000 (€785,000) of company money to fund his lavish lifestyle of luxury holidays and expensive motorbikes.

Andrew Saunders defrauded international aerospace and transport company Bombardier by moving the money to his wife's bank account out of a "sense of entitlement", Hove Crown Court heard on Monday.

The £690,000 (€774,000) he took between 2008 and 2013 paid for Harley-Davidsons and trips to the US among other treats.

Saunders was a manager at the company's Brighton office, handling part of its contract for manufacturing and fitting out Southern Railway's trains at the time.

The 52-year-old, of Wick, near Littlehampton, West Sussex, denied fraud but was found guilty at trial.

Judge Paul Tain said Saunders carried out a "sophisticated" and "significant" fraud when he took his company "for a ride" by "manipulating shortcomings" in the computer system.

He tried to "cover his tracks" before moving the money to family bank accounts, Judge Tain added.

The court previously heard how Saunders would sign off fake purchase orders to decoy businesses which he pretended were providing services for Bombardier before sending the money to his wife's account.

Sentencing Saunders, Judge Tain said: "This is a profoundly significant fraud involving deliberate, thought-through criminality.

"There was no doubt you had a sense of entitlement. It was patently clear you lived a significant lifestyle well beyond your ordinary means.

"(There is) no doubt (you were) living the high life than what would have been the case on your normal income.

"The offence was over a sustained period of time and was sophisticated."

Dressed in a grey suit and blue shirt, Saunders shook his head as Judge Tain told the court he "trashed" his wife and co-workers as he tried to plead his innocence.

Judge Tain added: "Two things disquieted me the most - the way you trashed everybody, your wife and your co-workers, the company for which you worked in your efforts to persuade the jury that you were not guilty. It is particularly unpleasant to see people being trashed.

"And the unbelievable fact that you pleaded not guilty. This case was so glaringly obvious that I find myself increasingly surprised that you have not pleaded guilty."

Saunders will now be subjected to a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing in a bid to recover the funds.

Co-defendant Roy George, 55, of Peacehaven, East Sussex, was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years after pleading guilty to converting criminal property between 2010 and 2013. He was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work - the maximum a court can impose.


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