Couple behind £150,000 fraud at Stephen Terry's Hardwick restaurant told to repay just £1

06 September 2023 by
Couple behind £150,000 fraud at Stephen Terry's Hardwick restaurant told to repay just £1

A couple who defrauded Stephen Terry's Hardwick restaurant in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire out of £150,000 have been told to pay back just £1.

Nicola Nightingale, 48, was working as a financial administrator at the restaurant when she committed the fraud between 2018 and 2020.

She pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position earlier this year when a court heard she had paid herself inflated wages, made payments into her and her husband's accounts and took out two £40,000 loans in Terry's name. Nightingale also generated fake invoices from fictitious suppliers.

The fraud was revealed when Terry discovered the loans had been taken out in his name and found a £10,000 shortfall in the business' pension pot.

Funds totalling £46,741.57 had been transferred into Simon Nightingale's account and the family had enjoyed luxury holidays from the proceeds.

Simon, who was found guilty of acquiring criminal property following a trial, had claimed he believed the cash was his wife's wages along with money for shifts he had carried out at the restaurant.

Earlier this year the couple, who live in Kent, were sentenced to two-years in prison suspended for two years at Cardiff Crown Court.

A Proceeds of Crime hearing heard that a "thorough" examination of the couple's finances revealed no releasable assets and Judge Shomon Khan handed out £1 confiscation orders to be made for both parties.

He said: "There has been a lot of interest in his case but there has been a thorough investigation and that's where we are in terms of the recoverable amount and this is as far as the courts can take it."

After their sentencing in May Terry said it was an "absolute joke" that the couple walked free after defrauding his restaurant out of £150,000.

"I believe she would have ended us… the business would have gone under," he said. "HMRC would have been knocking on my door and suppliers, she had no regard for that.

"This should be a lesson for all people not to trust, do your research, get references and be aware of how your business is being run. We trusted her and unfortunately, she didn't fulfil her job title.

"Get involved in your business because I am sure it's going on as we speak and it's an absolute killer. We have managed to survive by the skin of our teeth but we're still repaying debt. We're good at what we do and have managed to work through that."

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