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Cocaine addict pinched £100,000 out of his mum’s business to pay his debts

A fraudster funnelled more than £100,000 out of his mum’s care home business and into an employee’s bank account to pay for their shared cocaine addictions.

Paul Geary, whose mum owns Abbey Lawns Nursing Home in Anfield, appeared in the dock alongside care worker Michael Challis.

Geary, 46, of Kingsway, Wallasey , pleaded guilty to four offences of theft by employee and one of fraud by abuse of position.

Challis, 50, of Malwood Street, Toxteth , admitted one offence of theft.

Zia Chaudhry, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court : “He worked for the company as pay roll manager and also dealt with day to day office duties, having worked there since 1989. He would receive the wage sheets from the accountant and would then make payments using the company’s bank.

“Michael Challis also worked there and his role was a health care assistant and he had worked there for approximately ten years the time.

“Between 2014 to the middle of last year there was systematic overpayment of wages to Challis by Paul Geary. The relevant work sheets were being altered to show Challis was working much longer than he really had and so greater payments than he was really entitled to were going into his bank account.

“This amounted over a period of time to £104,563.”

Abbey Lawns nursing home in Anfield where Paul Geary, the owner’s son, was caught channelling more than £100,000 into an employee’s bank account to pay off his cocaine debts

The police became involved when Geary complained to them that Challis was blackmailing him.

He claimed that after his cocaine use got out of control he had found himself in debt to Challis who gave him drugs on tick and so he began falsifying his work records.

Challis said they both had the same drug dealer and it was Geary who paid their drug debt and denied blackmail.

Mr Chaudhry said it was clear neither account was entirely correct. “The bottom line is that both defendants were responsible for this enterprise in which money was taken from the business.”

He pointed out that text messages showed that Geary had gambling problems as well as a drug habit.

The court heard that Mrs Geary, who is still running the business, relies on her son and would be adversely affected if he was jailed. He has so far repaid £5,700 and is continuing to make payments.

Michael Challis, 50, of Malwood Street, Toxteth, admitted one offence of theft.

Jonathan Duffy, defending Geary, said he turned to drugs after the mental trauma he suffered by being at the Hillsborough disaster was reignited in 2012 by the official inquiry into the disaster.

Rachel Oakdene, defending Challis, said he had “an acute addiction to cocaine but is now drug free. He feels enormous shame and embarrassment and deeply regrets his involvement.”

Imposing suspended prison sentences on both men the judge, Recorder Barrie Searle, said that they “had been in it together,” and described Geary as having “cooked the books.”

The judge said that if Geary was sent straight to prison his mum, who relies on him, would become a victim for the second time.

He sentenced him to two years in prison suspended for two years, and order him to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and ten days rehabilitation activities.

Challis was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work and 20 days rehabilitation activities.

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