Council manager spent taxpayers' money on himself
A CITY council manager spent £117,000 of taxpayers' money on a seven-year personal shopping spree.
Stephen Parry was a technical team leader in the minor adaptations team of the authority's independent living service, Bristol Crown Court heard yesterday.
But for years he used money earmarked for home improvements for disabled people to buy electrical items, tools, office supplies, clothes and building materials, which he either kept for himself or sold on auction website eBay.
Parry was rumbled when the council realised he was buying gardening equipment from DIY store B&Q – but his team did not do any gardening work.
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The 57-year-old of Hillside Close, Wells, pleaded guilty to six counts of theft and was jailed for 20 months.
William Hunter, prosecuting, said a hearing would be held at a later date under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to claw back Parry's ill-gotten gains.
He told the court Parry, who worked for Bristol City Council for ten years, supervised five technicians and was responsible for allocating work, arranging contracts and buying materials and tools in order to carry out minor adaptations costing up to £1,000 to the homes of people with disabilities.
Mr Hunter said that in August last year Parry's purchase of gardening equipment was noticed, as well a set of headphones. Police were called in, searched his home and found gardening equipment, decorating items and BT phones.
Though Parry said his thefts totalled £108,000, the prosecution's calculation came to £117,000.
Parry told police he had been buying things either for himself or to sell, and could support his income by £350 per week by doing so.
The court heard he was a man of previous good character.
Ramin Pakrooh, defending, said Parry's wife and son could "exist" in his absence.
He said, though, that may change if the family home had to be remortgaged later in light of the proceeds of crime application but conceded his client should have thought of that before.
Mr Pakrooh said: "I put forward his good character hitherto, his age, his indicated guilty plea to magistrates at an early stage and his wife and son left behind."
Judge Martin Picton told Parry: "These offences are very serious. Thefts took place over a long period of time and the victims are the council tax payers.
"It is a lot of money and a gross breach of the trust placed in you."