Former Seaford IT manager found guilty of fraud

Seaford college
Seaford college

A FORMER IT manager at Seaford College who sold on more than £32,000 worth of computer hardware bought with the school’s money has given a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay compensation.

Joseph Coles, 34, from Bellfield, Fareham worked at the East Lavington school since 2008, but stepped down last year when he was exposed by an investigation into the third party involved.

Coles was sentenced at Chichester Crown Court on Tuesday (August 27).

Defending, David Bathurst said: “The offence was not prompted by greed, but through desperation. Debt owed to credit card companies and his own parents. There was never an intention to profit from this money.

“It was not my client who instigated the activity – it was the third party who instructed him.

“He offered his help to the school even though his position was gone. He jumped before he was pushed.

“It is testament to as to how high he was valued by his employers that he was able to assist them in what was a difficult transitional time.

He also pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. He has managed to find alternative employment – this is a remarkable and exceptional aspect of his case and he has been promoted to a position of responsibility.

Mr Bathurst said Coles had not intended to profit personally from selling on the hardware and only wanted to pay his debts.

“There was no hate or hostility involved.

“My client has six children and his partner has medical difficulties. This is putting enormous pressure on his family.”

Presiding, Judge Fraser said Coles, who was in a position of importance at Seaford school, had lost his reputation as a result of his actions.

“Your involvement is clear,” he told the court. “You were gaining at the expense of the school. It was a fraud which was fraudulent from the outset.

“You face a significant custodial sentence for the significant amount of money.”

Judge Fraser also told the court he would have take into consideration Coles’ one time fraudulent use of a tax disc.

“However, you have certainly accepted your responsibility and you have been extremely remorseful.”

Coles was also ordered to pay £2,000 compensation, £200 court costs, will be electronically tagged and faces 200 hours unpaid work.