CASE STUDY

Pub manager accused of theft of takings
Criminal

Mr S, was appointed manager of a public house. After a few months he was removed on the basis of alleged thefts of cash from the takings. He was charged with 2 counts of theft each count covering a VAT Return period. I was instructed by the defence to review the accounting records and accounting systems of the pub to see if they supported the allegation. The accounting records were poor in my opinion. In particular forms on which takings were to be recorded were very badly designed, there was no system to record cash expenditure (beyond notes scribbled in the margin of the forms), cash was never required to be physically counted (and cash on the premises was never in fact counted), the safe key was kept in a place known to all employees (even when Mr S was absent from the premises), and the owner was said to visit the pub and remove unrecorded amounts of cash to pay bills and expenses. My report was disclosed to the prosecution and in the Crown Court prosecuting counsel warned the jury in his opening speech that the accounting records were to be subject to serious criticism in the course of the evidence. In the event however Mr S was acquitted at the conclusion of the prosecution case on the basis that there was "no case to answer" since the cash shortages could not be proven to be linked to Mr S (as distinct from other employees, the owner, or use to meet bona fide expenditures which had not been recorded). As a result I was not called to give evidence. My fees were covered by a prior authority from the LSC.

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