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Man stole £100k+ from employer to repay “crippling” levels of debt

Man stole £100k+ from employer to repay “crippling” levels of debt

Friday 16 December 2022

Man stole £100k+ from employer to repay “crippling” levels of debt

Friday 16 December 2022

A 28-year-old man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for fraudulently refunding himself over £100,000 from his employer over eight years to pay off personal debt.

Guernsey’s Royal Court heard yesterday that Cyle Hooper had defrauded his employer of ten years, the Blue Diamond Group, of around £110,441.43 over an eight year period.

The company are expected to launch civil proceedings against Hooper, but it is not believed he is able to repay due to significant outstanding debts. 

Crown Advocate Jenny McVeigh, prosecuting, said he had been employed at the garden centre between January 2012 and January 2022 where he had worked his way up to a managerial position within the gardening department.


Pictured: Hooper worked at the garden centre for ten years. 

It became apparent to the centre manager that a number of refunds had been issued to one bank card in January of this year, which was discovered to belong to Hooper.

Around £2,000 had been fraudulently refunded over the preceding three month period. Hooper admitted responsibility across two internal disciplinary hearings, but did not detail the additional years of similar behaviour.

He was arrested by Police before the Economic and Financial Crime Bureau began investigating Hoopers' bank accounts in February, which discovered 328 separate refund credits from his workplace ranging from £3 to £899 since 2014. 

Those listings did not include his wages, and whilst he had spent around £7,000 in total at the garden centre over the years, the dates did not correspond to the refunds. 

Advocate McVeigh noted that Hooper had not disputed his offences when interviewed twice by Police. He was reported to have said: “That’s exactly what happened, I’m not proud of it”

He told Police the requisite amount of cash required for each refund was calculated based on the amount of debt he needed to repay at the time, which totaled tens of thousands of pounds across 25 separate loans - mainly payday. 

Hooper also claimed he made “a horrible, horrible mistake” and that his debt and theft had “scaled out of control”. 

He was “shocked” when Police detailed the full amount of money he had taken in April, agreed with his dishonesty and claimed he was “not in a good financial position”, according to Advocate McVeigh. 

Cash was used for his daily expenses as well as repaying the multiple loans and forgotten debtors. 

Advocate McVeigh asked the court to issue a confiscation order, with detailed finances to be provided within 28-days, since Hooper had no assets to compensate Blue Diamond within a reasonable time period. 


Pictured: Les Nicolles Prison. 

Advocate Liam Roffey, defending, noted it was one of the rare criminal cases “where the defendant has held his hands up from the outset”, providing full candid admissions to his employer and Police when caught. 

Most of his loans were payday “with crippling interest rates”, with a “substantial number of refunds” used to repay the most urgent debts.

Advocate Roffey said some instances of leisure spending were not frequent and some cash was used to assist family members: “We are not dealing with a defendant who led a luxurious lifestyle… he was crippled by payday loan companies.

“Nothing I say is designed to excuse his actions because he blames nobody but himself.”

Advocate Roffey questioned if the local sentencing guidelines for the case would be appropriate given potentially out-of-date precedent set in the case of McCarthy (2008), which recommended a starting point of two to three years in prison. 

“It’s simply not just to ignore inflation… these figures are 14-years old,” he said. “I acknowledge this offending was over a continuous period, but the sum taken is not as close to the top end of that bracket as first appears”.

Judge Catherine Fooks suggested that fraud cases in 2022 and 2019 did set precedent for the type of offending. 

Advocate Roffey asked the court to consider a non-custodial sentence, but noted his client “fully expects to go to custody”. 


Pictured: Judge Catherine Fooks said the precedent set in McCarthy (2008) should be followed. 

Judge Fooks found that Hooper had demonstrated “a serious breach of trust”, sophisticatedly stealing “a considerable amount of money” over an extended period. 

She said of the case of McCarthy that where trust is breached the defendant “should expect to go to prison”, and therefore imposed a sentencing starting point of three years given the aggravating factors. 

Full credit was given for early guilty pleas, unconnected previous offences, age at the start of offending, good character, and for cooperating “fully with the criminal justice system”. 

She also noted his “spiral of crippling debt” which remains unpaid. 

But Judge Fooks said there was “nothing exceptional” in the case to permit a non-custodial sentence, and sent Hooper to Les Nicolles for 18 months with a supervision order. 

A compensation order was deemed “not appropriate”, and the determination of the proceeds of crime was adjourned for two months to establish the consequences of civil proceedings by his employer.

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