A scheming employee who stole almost £900,000 from Nike to fuel his “out of control” gambling addiction has been jailed.
Christopher Rawding abused his position of trust by blocking clients’ payments to the global sportswear company, instead giving them details for his private bank account.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how the father-of-two had dozens of transactions paid into his Halifax account between April 2015 and October 2018 accumulating to £890,791.82.
He has been covering his tracks by manipulating the accounts of other clients to hide the hole in the account of Urban Industries at the end of each invoice period.
The account representative needed the funds to continue his secret life as a gambling addict who was losing around £5,000 a day.
The offending only came to light after Rawding was transferred to the Netherlands in April 2018 when he was appointed as a strategic accounts representative.
It was in October that year when Nike discovered the customer payment and credit notes had been incorrectly applied to Urban Industries.
Barry Robson, prosecuting, said: “All payments from Urban Industries were either paid by direct debit into the Nike account or as advised into the defendant’s bank account on an ad-hoc basis.
“None of the switching caused any problems in the supply chain to Urban Industries and they had no reason to suspect anything was untoward.”
An investigation revealed the 36-year-old had blocked a number of direct debits with a total of £871,476.68 being transferred into his bank account by Urban Industries.
In November 2018 he tendered his resignation. But it was not until two months later when the full extent of Rawding’s crimes would be revealed.
Another account managed by the devious employee between 2015 and 2016 had seen Cushty Ltd, unknowingly, transfer more than £19,000 to his private account.
Police arrested Rawding, of Belsay Gardens, Sunderland, in March 2019 and he later pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud by false representation.
In a business impact statement Nike said it had suffered “significant financial losses” while the subsequent legal investigation had used a lot of “substantial amount of staff time and resources”.
Penny Hall, defending, said Rawding’s gambling addiction started after his grandfather’s death around 12 years ago but “exploded” again at the time his children were born.
“He is someone who is an ordinarily a hard-working family man who up until this case lived a law-abiding lifestyle,” she said.
“At the time of offending, the defendant had a significant perhaps completely out of control gambling problem. He was gambling more money than it would seem he could ever have kept count of or ever afford.
“When all this came to light he himself could not believe the total amount of money that had been taken from the company.”
The court heard how Rawding has now stopped gambling and volunteered for more than 800 hours delivering food and assisting the NHS during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However this was brought to an end after he was struck down by the disease and has been unwell for the majority of the past year.
Recorder Nicholas Lumley QC jailed Rawding for a total of 40 months at a sentencing hearing on Tuesday.
He said: “You led a secret life – the life of a gambler.
“You were a trusted employee rising through the ranks earning evermore and in a position of significant trust.
“You chose gambling over your family, your friends and you chose dishonesty. You chose to bite the hand that had been feeding you and your family for the previous seven years.
“You thought you would never be found out. It was only because it was discovered by others that it was brought to an end.
“You have nothing to show for it. Not a penny remains. In total £890,791.83 has been taken by you to satisfy your selfish, short term needs.”
Prosecutors have also launched proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize any assets Rawding may have with a hearing to take place on August 10.