Leeds & West Yorkshire

Ex-ITV manager Darren Smith jailed for fraud

A former finance manager who invented a bogus company to con ITV out of more than £140,000 has been jailed.

Darren Smith, 38, of Cornwall Street, Leeds, signed off fake invoices worth up to £7,000 each while working for ITV Yorkshire, Tyne Tees and Border.

He admitted conspiracy to defraud and acquiring criminal property and was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Smith recruited a recovering drug addict to pose as a contractor and bank the payments, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Vast debts

The court was told how ITV inadvertently paid Steven Marsden about £54,000 for camera and training work and £87,000 to a fictitious production company over a two-year period.

Marsden, 48, of Bury Old Road, Prestwich, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud, acquiring criminal property and distributing the proceeds.

Ian Mullarkey, prosecuting, said Smith was trusted to handle multi-million-pound budgets as part of his £58,000-a-year job.

He said: "He was exploiting his knowledge of the internal workings of the accountancy system at ITV and paying for services which had never even been provided."

The court heard Smith, a father of two, had "vast personal debts" of £805,000, largely through property investments.

'Breach of trust'

In mitigation, the court heard Smith was struggling to keep up with his debts as his monthly repayments were more than he earned.

Marsden had faced homelessness and kicked a long-standing class A drug habit about a year ago, the court heard.

Judge James Spencer QC told Smith: "This was a repeated act of criminality.

"The most severe aspect of your case is the breach of trust involved and the amounts involved."

The judge told Marsden: "You were a ready participant in these frauds. It could not have worked without you."

Proceeds of crime hearings will be held next summer.

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