County Durham groundsman provided fraudulent invoices to Ramside Hall and received over £10,000

By David Huntley

A County Durham groundsman submitted fraudulent invoices to Ramside Hall and was wrongly paid over £10,000.

Stephen Bowater provided false invoices over a three month period, suggesting he had carried out work for the company, when he hadn't.

The 37-year-old also forged the signature of his former employer, with Ramside Estates paying him thousands as a result.

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Bowater, of High Street, West Cornforth, Ferryhill, appeared at Durham Crown Court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to fraud.

The court heard that Bowater committed the offence between December 13, 2019 and March 26, 2020.

Bowater was initially working for a company that was sub-contracted to undertake ground work for Ramside Estates, which runs Ramside Hall Hotel at Carville, Durham.

The court was told that Bowater's offending was "not dishonest from the start", but over three months he was self-certifying and providing invoices suggesting he worked over that period, when in actual fact, he did not.

He was wrongly paid more than £10,000 by the company.

The court heard that Bowater was also given a suspended sentence in February, last year, for stealing a quantity of bricks.

In mitigation, Chris Morrison said Bowater, a dad-of-three, has since gained employment for a construction company and has "good prospects".

He added that Bowater was "not dishonest from the start".

Judge James Adkin, the Recorder of Durham, handed Bowater a nine month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and made him subject to a four month curfew.

He must also pay £4,800 compensation.

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