Catering officer who made false invoices handed suspended sentence

Ipswich Crown Court
Ipswich Crown Court

A catering officer at a Suffolk airbase who took thousands of pounds which had been intended to pay for food at functions has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Christopher Lyons, 39, of Craighall Street, Stirling, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court today after pleading guilty at a previous hearing to an offence of fraud by abuse of position while at Wattisham and Woolwich.

The court heard that Lyons had committed the offence over a two year period while working as a regimental catering warrant officer when his drinking had gotten out of control.

Prosecutor Catherine Bradshaw said Lyons had submitted 79 false invoices totalling £34,000 but it had not been possible to exactly calculate how much he actually gained. Lyons had since repaid £3,000 to the army.

Sentencing him, Judge John Devaux said Lyons had been able to commit the fraud because he was not the subject of any regular financial checks and was trusted.

Lyons was sentenced to 24 weeks imprisonment suspended for 18 months which Judge Devaux said reflected Lyons previous good character. In addition, Lyons was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,200.

Appearing for Lyons, Edward Renvoize said his client, who had served in the army since 1995 including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia, had drunk too much because of events in his personal life.

Lyons, who now faces discharge from the army, was preparing to attend a rehabilitation centre, said Mr Renvoize.