Couple called Mr and Mrs Lawless ‘stole £1.7million from companies over 11 years to fund expensive holidays, shopping at Selfridges and outings to international rugby matches’
Gerard Lawless, 59, and his wife Angela, 58, pictured outside St Albans Crown Court where they are both facing charges. Both deny them
A company accountant named Gerard Lawless stole £1.7 million from his own place of work to fund expensive holidays and shopping trips, a jury has been told today.
Lawless, 59, allegedly took the money over 11 years – mainly from two public relations companies based in Hertfordshire called Hunter and Carbon and owned by a Vincent Tickel.
His fraud is said to have been so blatant that at one point his colleagues were sipping on champagne he had bought with a company credit card.
Mr Lawless, 59, and his wife Angela, 58, who are now living in Galway, are on trial at St Albans Crown Court in a case that is due to last four to five weeks.
Gideon Cammerman, who is prosecuting in the case, told the jury: ‘We see this is a very simple case.
‘On November 20, 1997 Mr Lawless began an accounts role within a small group of companies in Hertfordshire predominately owned by a Vincent Tickel.
‘From 2003 to 2014 Mr Lawless stole £1.7 million. He did it in lots of different ways, all of which supported a luxurious lifestyle.
‘It was spent on holidays, shopping at Selfridges, John Lewis and on family outings to international rugby games – Mr Lawless being a supporter of Ireland.’
Mr Tickel is said to have placed a great deal of trust in Lawless, telling his wife that if he died she should go to Lawless because he knew about everything.
‘That trust was betrayed in a sustained way,’ said the prosecutor.
Gerard Lawless (right) is alleged to have stolen £1.7 million and spent it on holidays with his wife Angela (left) among other things, including shopping and international rugby matches
Mr Cammerman went on: ‘In a decade, £230,000 was spent by the Lawless’s on holidays – that is £25,000 a year. Many thousands of pounds was spent on wine and champagne.
‘So blatant did the fraud become that champagne for his son’s wedding, to which the directors and employers were invited, was bought with a company credit card.
‘He (Mr Lawless) would pay for a big meal on a company credit card and other people would give him money for their share back. He was giving his bank details for people to send him their share.’
Mr Cammerman said there was a human story behind the alleged fraud.
He said the couple had been living apart when they first came to England, but there appeared to be the ‘coincidence’ of a happy family life returning with the sort of luxuries he bought with the company money while living in Harpenden.
He said: ‘The money was spent not on things solely for Mr Lawless – it rarely was – it was spent on shopping, outings, meals and events.’
When he was confronted by Mr Tickel and others, Lawless allegedly said: ‘I didn’t know it was that much.’
But the jury was told he says he did not make the admissions and says that he had permission to take the money.
The prosecutor alleged the trial is the final phase of the fraud, with it being Mr Lawless’ attempt to get away with it.
Gerard Lawless denies theft and fraud by abuse of position. Angela Lawless denies being concerned in the acquisition, retention, use of control of criminal property.
The case continues.
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