The former manager of Liverpool's Panoramic 34 has been jailed for three years after being found guilty of defrauding the restaurant out of at least £70,000.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Alistair Gillan, 47, had been systematically pocketing cash takings for two years.
A jury was told that Gillan (pictured) had used the till system of the restaurant, on the 34th floor of the Beetham West Tower skyscraper, to transfer cash sales to a "so-called ghost table". Prosecutors said: "It was not in use and in that way you were able to keep a tally of the cash sales and at the end of the shift when cashing up you would simply total up the number of items on that ghost table, void them and take the cash and pocket it."
Some of the £121,102 worth of sales voided would have been genuine and Judge Andrew Menary, QC, sentenced Gillan on the basis he had pocketed no less than £70,000, acknowledging that the sum "might have [been] significantly higher".
Judge Menary said: "I have no doubt at all that your fraud resulted in you dishonestly taking out of the company an amount of not less than £70,000. It is difficult to be precise because you have not had the courage to give any explanation at all . You not having said a single word to explain or justify what you did or in any way explain why it is you stole all this money or explain what happened to it."
Gillan, who had been living in Toxteth, denied one offence of fraud involving abuse of position but chose not to give evidence during the trial. The court was told the whereabouts of the money is a "mystery", with a proceeds of crime hearing scheduled for later this year to investigate if any of the funds can be retrieved.
Within an impact statement read to the court, managing director of the restaurant Catherine Frost said: "When I discovered that Alistair had been defrauding the company and staff for almost two years I couldn't believe it… I had a lot of faith in him that he would do a great job and motive the staff and made me believe that he was doing this.
"I am thankful that the business has been able to survive this. Maybe other businesses would have gone under, but thanks to the hard work of the staff at Panoramic, we have survived it and they all still have their jobs, albeit having lost money along the way."
Defence barrister Jason Smith said: "He has worked all his life in the hospitality trade and following this conviction it is unlikely he will be able to work in that trade again."
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