Sheffield school’s chair of governors jailed

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A school’s chair of governors with a secret gambling habit who led a double life away from his family has been jailed for two years for fraud.

Sheffield businessman David Richard Bradford, aged 57, swindled a company in North Wales out of more than £50,000 while working as its financial controller.

Bradford, of Cleeve Hill Gardens, Waterthorpe, was chair of governors at Waterthorpe Infant School, and had served on the board since 2002.

He was a governor at Westfield School between 2005 and 2008.

The court heard that, while he was stealing, Bradford spent £37,000 on gambling and made a net loss of £17,000.

News of the court case came as a complete surprise to his family.

His son Adam Bradford, 21, a well-known young entrepreneur in the city, said: “We are in absolute disbelief and disgust at what has happened and what he has done.

“It was only on the night before his sentencing that he admitted he was going to court after pleading guilty to fraud, and not away on company business as he previously led us to believe.

“He’d kept the whole thing to himself. We are finding the whole thing surreal – it is like he was a completely different person.

“Dad would be away during the week and only came home at weekends – he must have been in a very dark hole.”

Adam said his father had gambled large amounts of money on online casino games and other betting outlets, sometimes playing dozens of times on a daily basis.

“The figures are unbelievable – clearly he was stealing money to gamble and we are now trying to meet the bills he has left behind,” he said.

“At home he appeared to be completely well balanced – he kept his two lives completely separate.

“His head is not in a good place at the moment. He is full of remorse and cannot justify what he has done or the reasons why.

“While we have no excuse or explanation, and we are not trying to defend him, we are victims as well - we’ve been left with a massive burden to deal with,” Adam added.

Mold Crown Court heard Bradford was taken on by Medical Gas Solutions Ltd initially as a £260-a-day independent financial consultant.

He was later appointed to a £71,000-a-year job with responsibility for the control of the company’s finances.

The court heard he was to be paid monthly – but he sometimes paid himself two or three times a month.

The total loss to the company was £53,690, which meant the managing director went without a salary for three months to ensure his staff received wages.

Bradford, who had a previous conviction for stealing from an employer in 1986, admitted fraud and dishonestly obtaining money from MGS Ltd between January 2011 and October 2012.

Judge Philip Hughes said Bradford was ‘milking the company’ for his own ‘selfish and dishonest purposes’.

It was, he said, a ‘grave breach of trust’ involving serious and repeated offences.

The fraud came to light when a part-time employee in accounts realised what was going on and alerted the managing director.

Bradford was dismissed and wrote out a credit note to the company, but it had never been repaid.

David Birrell, defending, said the offending was not sophisticated and was easily detected. He had not, as in many other cases, covered up his tracks or disguised his offending.

Bradford, who had suffered a heart attack and had depression, was a devoted father who was really at a loss to explain his offending, he added.