Prison for casino theft manager

Updated: 

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE.Undated Avon and Somerset Police handout photo of Martin Palmer,  who has been jailed for two years after he stole nearly �55,000 from a casino. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 7, 2014. Palmer, 35, supplied hundreds of forged invoices to Gala Casino, claiming food was being supplied by Italian chain Carluccio's. He convinced the casino's head office in London to approve payments in petty cash for the non-existent food - which he then pocketed.  See PA story COURTS Casino. Photo credit should read: Avon and Somerset Police/PA WireLEGAL NOTICE/DISCLAIMER: This photograph is being released to you for the purposes of reporting this particular case/incident and you should then destroy it.Its use thereafter is not sanctioned by Avon and Somerset Constabulary without direct authority of the Chief Constable.The Copyright is retained by the owner of the photograph.You are reminded of your obligations under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 should this photograph be used again in any unrelated proceedings.Acceptance of this photograph confirms that Avon and Somerset Constabulary will be indemnified in the event of any proceedings arising from unauthorised use by yourselves.

A hospitality manager who stole nearly £55,000 from a casino has been jailed for two years.

Martin Palmer, 35, supplied hundreds of forged invoices to Gala Casino, claiming food was being supplied by Italian chain Carluccio's.

He convinced the casino's head office in London to approve payments in petty cash for the non-existent food - which he then pocketed.

Bristol Crown Court heard the fraud, which lasted between April 2011 and August 2013 and involved £54,880.35, led to other members of staff being made redundant.

Palmer, of Grantson Close, Bristol, was arrested after staff became suspicious of his invoices - including 17 submitted on one day - and launched an investigation.

He initially denied wrongdoing but later admitted fraud by abuse of position and said the money had been used to fund his cocaine habit.

Judge Euan Ambrose told Palmer his actions caused the casino's general manager, George Gordon, to offload three members of staff.

"Mr Gordon, during the period made 13 people redundant," Judge Ambrose said.

"He estimates that if you had not committed these offences two or three of those jobs would have
been saved.

"You were there, you saw people being made redundant. You knew it was due to the financial state of the casino, yet you continued to steal.

"You had a cocaine habit for some six years or so. That is where the money went."

The court was told Palmer approached Mr Gordon in early 2011, offering to use his former employer Carluccio's to provide the casino's food at no extra cost.

Palmer told Mr Gordon that Carluccio's would have to be paid in petty cash, as there was no formal contract between the chain and Gala Casino.

Over a 22-month period, Palmer, who was responsible for the branch's food and bar, submitted 228 false invoices, including some from other catering companies.

Palmer was so trusted within the company that his purchases were simply approved by email from a colleague in the head office, prosecutor Janice Eagles said.

"The manager of the casino was contacted in August because there were concerns about some of the invoices that had been submitted," Ms Eagles said.

"He carried out an investigation and realised that some of the invoices submitted were for items that would not be used for the casino, for example toiletries, a football game and items from retailers such as Ikea, Lidl and Morrisons.

"Mr Gordon contacted Carluccio's and they told him that they hadn't supplied any food to the casino."

Gala Casino's head office then examined the invoices and found they had been submitted on old notepaper that had not been used since 2010, she added.

Police were called and Palmer was interviewed on November 23 2013. He did not comment on the claims but his solicitor indicated they would not be contested.

"The offences have had a significant impact on the company," Ms Eagles told the court.

Mitigating, Donald Tait said his client, who lives with his parents, was of previous good character and educated to degree level.

"He has nothing whatsoever to show for the money that he took," Mr Tait said. "It is quite clear that he would have lost track of how much he was siphoning off the casino as the months went by."

"The money was paid over to those who were supplying him with Class A drugs."

Palmer is "very sorry" if his actions impacted on any jobs at Gala Casino, Mr Tait added.

A Proceeds of Crime hearing will take place at the court at a later date.

The biggest scams of 2013

The biggest scams of 2013