A former finance director who stole more than £500,000 to fund his wife's lavish lifestyle has been sentenced to four years in jail. Andrew Wetherall, 49, of Christchurch Close, St Albans, Herts, admitted false accounting and fraud, at London's Southwark Crown Court.
The father-of-two stole £545,620 from accountancy firm KPMG between September 2002 and January 2007. The court was told he had taken the money to pay for cars and holidays. Wetherall, who enjoyed a six-figure salary, said that when his wife Catherine's previous partner tried to reduce maintenance payments, he was worried her lifestyle would be affected.
He was desperate to avoid marital tension or a second expensive divorce so made the bogus expense claims, the court heard. He spent the money on expensive watches, top-of-the range cars and five-star holidays. By the time he was arrested, £545,620 was missing, but he has since repaid all of the money, the court was told.
Investigators found Wetherall repeatedly made flight and expenses claims for non-existent trips. Frederick Ferguson, defending, told the court his client accepted what he had done was "immature and inappropriate". He added that the absence of Wetherall's wife in court was partly to avoid press attention, and should not be interpreted as her no longer supporting him.
Judge Gregory Stone told him: "This is a very serious offence and I have no alternative but to sentence you to prison. "The gravity of this case focuses on the breach of trust that was involved and the very large sums of money of which you defrauded your employers. "Clearly you have damaged a glittering career and you have also damaged the thing that you were trying to protect - your lifestyle."
The judge said in Wetherall's favour were his guilty pleas and the fact that he had repaid KPMG every penny he had stolen.