Senedd member's former aide stole almost £2,000 of office equipment

Senedd buildingImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Crispin John was caught when Senedd staff traced the missing items

A former aide to Senedd member Gareth Bennett stole almost £2,000 worth of office kit from the Welsh Parliament.

Crispin John, 42, admitted in court to stealing printer cartridges and other items paid for with public funds.

John worked as chief of staff to the UKIP group while Gareth Bennett was its leader, and later served as his senior adviser.

He carried out the crimes between September and November 2019, while working for Mr Bennett.

He was caught when staff traced the missing items.

Senedd officials reported him to police - Mr Bennett said his employee was suspended as soon as the crimes came to light.

John admitted the theft of £1,947.25 of goods when he appeared at Cardiff Magistrates Court earlier this month.

He was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,947.25 of compensation to the Senedd.

John, of Cyncoed, Cardiff, was handed a rehabilitation requirement and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £95 victim surcharge.

Image caption,
Gareth Bennett said he informed staff immediately "when evidence of possible wrongdoing came to light"

A UKIP spokesman said: "Mr John has never been an employee of the party - only to the group and later to Gareth Bennett after the group's dissolution.

"He has not been a member of UKIP for well over a year. I believe he left the party shortly after Gareth became an independent MS [Member of the Senedd]."

John worked as an advisor for Mr Bennett before working as the UKIP group's chief of staff when he took over as party leader in 2018.

When the group collapsed in the May 2019, the employee continued to work for Gareth Bennett as a senior adviser.

Mr Bennett left UKIP in November that year, and is standing as a candidate for the Abolish the Assembly party at the Senedd election in May.

In a statement, Mr Bennett said: "When evidence of possible wrongdoing within my office came to light, I immediately informed staff at the Senedd.

"Crispin was suspended immediately and these events ultimately led to a police investigation.

"I will not be making any further comment on this matter."