A UNIVERSITY student who stole £11,750 from his employer to pay off debts has been spared jail.
Martin Prout, 23, stole from the city’s Nuffield Hospital where he worked in the accounts department during two summer holidays while studying at university.
Prout, of Briar Crescent, Wonford, Exeter, admitted two offences of fraud by abuse of position and asked for seven further offences to be taken into consideration.
At Exeter Magistrates’ Court, prosecutor Mark Haddow said Prout had worked for the hospital during the summer of 2008. An anomaly was spotted involving £6,250 of patients’ fees for an operation which had been refunded and written off.
The court was told a manager in the department has to sign for refunds over £1,000 and this had gone through without his approval. The hospital traced who had approved the refund and discovered it was Prout and that the payment had been made to a different card than the patient’s.
Prout was called to a meeting with the manager. He initially denied having anything to do with the incident, but soon owned up and said the card details were his. The police were called and Prout admitted another offence involving £1,000 that summer.
Mr Haddow said: “This followed the same pattern. He had clearly worked out a system.”
In police interview, Prout told officers about seven other offences during the summer of 2007 which totalled £4,500.
The court was told that Prout’s victim was the hospital and not the patients who had been reimbursed by their medical insurers for their treatment.
The court heard that Prout, who works one day a week in a bar at Exeter City Football Club, had got heavily into debt with bank loans and credit cards while he was studying at the University of Plymouth.
Reports by the probation service said Prout saw the offences as borrowing, and that he did not show much concern for the company’s loss. It said he did regret his actions.
Mitigating, Peter Seigne told the court that Prout avoided the finger of suspicion being pointed at his colleagues by admitting the offences early.
He said his client ran up £6,500 in debt in his first year at university and even more by his second year.
Mr Seigne said: “It has been a salutary lesson.”
Magistrates sentenced Prout to 26 weeks in prison suspended for two years. They ordered he carry out 200 hours unpaid work and that he pay £1,000 compensation to the hospital.