Man guilty for role in £150,000 fraud at chef Stephen Terry's restaurant

10 February 2023 by
Man guilty for role in £150,000 fraud at chef Stephen Terry's restaurant

A man is facing jail for jetting off on luxury family holidays to Disney World after his wife swindled a TV chef out of £150,000.

Simon Nightingale, 50, has been found guilty of illegally pocketing more than £46,000 stolen from chef Stephen Terry's Hardwick restaurant in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire by his fraudster wife Nicola, 47.

The couple went on a string of holidays abroad while Mrs Nightingale took funds from the restaurant by creating bogus invoices.

A court heard the pair took trips to Eurodisney, Disney World Florida, France and had anniversary stays in Morocco using cash from the restaurant.

Prosecutor Thomas Stanway said Mrs Nightingale began her fraud after being employed as an office administrator at the country inn.

Terry, who was Gordon Ramsay's best man and appeared on the BBC's Great British Menu, raised the alarm when he saw money missing from the accounts.

Stanway said: "Here you have a family living the high life. Living beyond their means on the money of another.

"The contrast couldn't be starker from Mr Terry working hard in his restaurant while the Nightingales are living it up on his money."

The court heard Mr Nightingale was on a £55,000-a-year salary as a group head chef for Q Hotels while his wife stole over £150,000 from the Hardwick.

Cardiff Crown Court heard cash was repeatedly transferred into Nightingale's Barclays account by his wife totalling £46,741.57.

The money from the Hardwick restaurant was transferred between May 2018 and February 2020.

Stanway said the couple went on multiple trips while also making payments to debt management company Lowell Portfolio Ltd to pay off store cards.

Terry looked at his accounts to discover two £40,000 loans had been taken out in his name along with a £10,000 shortfall in the pension pot.

Giving evidence, he said: "I think it took Nicola about four weeks to start taking money from us from when she started. She didn't hang about."

Mr Nightingale claimed he believed the cash was his wife's wages along with money for shifts he had carried out at the restaurant.

He told a jury: "There was no need for me to challenge her because it was her wages going into my account and my extracurricular wages going into my account."

The couple's daughter Jasmine, 22, also claimed her mother had "complete control" of the finances while they jetted off abroad.

Mr Nightingale, who moved from Gilwern, Abergavenny to Deal, Kent, denied acquiring criminal property but was found guilty after a trial.

His wife Mrs Nightingale previously pleaded guilty to fraud.

Judge Barry Clarke said: "All options remain open to the court including a custodial sentence."

The couple are due to be sentenced together on March 17.

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