Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield catering boss James Burdall jailed for fraud

James Burdall's swimming pool Image copyright South Yorkshire Police
Image caption Police said James Burdall enjoyed a "lavish lifestyle" and had an indoor swimming pool

A former director of a catering firm has been jailed for four years for stealing £1.2m, leading to a company's collapse and the loss of 350 jobs.

James Burdall, 48, of Cottage Lane, Sheffield, was sentenced at the city's crown court after admitting four counts of fraud by abuse of position.

South Yorkshire Police said Burdall funded a "lavish lifestyle" by moving cash into his personal accounts.

He was convicted after a three-year investigation.

Burdall became director of Out of Town Leisure Group and Bradwell's Ice Cream in 2006, when the owner Lawrence Wosskow moved abroad following a heart attack.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Out of Town Leisure Group operated several food outlets at Meadowhall

South Yorkshire Police said Burdall immediately began transferring funds into his own accounts, spending money on an indoor swimming pool, landscaped gardens, private school fees and fine art.

In July 2010 Mr Wosskow discovered what had been happening through a business associate.

Out of Town Leisure Group went into administration days later, leading to the loss of about 350 jobs including about 100 at Sheffield's Meadowhall shopping centre.

Speaking after sentencing, Mr Wosskow said: "James and I had been friends since our schooldays and, after our paths went in separate directions, we met up again in 2005.

"We quickly became best friends and when I suffered a heart attack a year later James was very supportive.

"He was the person I thought could be trusted to oversee my businesses."

Graham Wragg, fraud manager at South Yorkshire Police, said: "In his self-serving pursuit of an extravagant lifestyle [Burdall] caused the loss of the livelihood of 350 ordinary individuals and risked further damage to the health of his former friend."

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