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Scam staff splashed £700k of firm’s cash on luxuries

A FINANCE manager and his assistant have been jailed for defrauding their employer of more than £700,000 that was spent on designer clothes, holidays and a luxury car.

Jeremy Dawes, 46, and Simon Bleakley, 43, disguised transfers of the asbestos removal firm’s cash to themselves as payments to contractors.

Bleakley started the fraud alone, taking £45,000 from 2012 to 2013. But when Dawes joined the Bolton firm in 2014, he plotted with his junior colleague to ramp up the thefts.

Mercedes: Simon and Patricia Bleakley

As well as sharing funds from a joint account he set up with Bleakley, he took even more for himself, netting £450,000 of the total stolen.

Dawes, from Leigh, Greater Manchester, was jailed for four years and eight months at Preston crown court, while Bleakley, of Hindley, got three years and three months. They admitted fraud.

Bleakley’s wife Patricia, 46, got an 18-month suspended sentence after admitting money laundering. She and her husband posed with a new Mercedes in a video sent to Dawes.

Det Con Tim Hanson said the family company regularly struggled to pay wages until the fraud was uncovered.

‘This brazen scam risked the future not only of the company but of the people who rely on it,’ he added.