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Jury set to retire at trial of pub manager accused of stealing £93k from The Clipper in Dartford

A pub boss accused of stealing more than £93,000 from the place he worked will find out his fate next week.

Liam Sanders, of Port Rise, Chatham, has been on trial all week for allegedly siphoning off the huge sum while working at The Clipper pub in High Street, Dartford.

Liam Sanders, from Chatham, is accused of stealing £93,000 of takings from The Clipper pub in Dartford High Street. Picture: Facebook (60487428)
Liam Sanders, from Chatham, is accused of stealing £93,000 of takings from The Clipper pub in Dartford High Street. Picture: Facebook (60487428)

During the five-day trial, which is made up of eight female and four male jurors, the prosecution claimed Sanders, 32, pocketed a days worth of takings around 40 times in 2017 and 2018 when he was meant to be taking it to the bank.

Previously, prosecutor Mark Hunsley said Sanders was the only member of staff who was on duty, according to the staff rota and time sheets, when the money went missing, except for when he was on holiday, when no money was taken.

However, Sanders' defence barrister John Lyons claimed documents from MFA Properties, who run the pub and other sites around the south east, weren't accurate and Sanders was often at MFA's other sites in Chatham, Lewisham, Whitstable or Southend.

Mr Lyons said on one day money went missing, when it was meant to be banked in Dartford, Sanders wasn't on the pub's work rota, but was scheduled to be working at the bowling alley in Lewisham.

However, no physical evidence could be produced to show Sanders was at the site that day.

Previously, the court heard how after police searched Sanders' home in 2019 they found multiple holiday booking confirmations, including trips to Cancun and Vallarta in Mexico, Iceland and Amsterdam in 2017 and 2018, which cost just under £10,000.

Liam Sanders worked at The Clipper pub in High Street, Dartford, since August 2016. Picture: Google
Liam Sanders worked at The Clipper pub in High Street, Dartford, since August 2016. Picture: Google

Sanders, a former Northfleet Technology College pupil who lived in Gravesend, claimed the holidays were paid for by his wealthy grandfather, who died in 2018, or from cash bonuses he received from MFA Properties.

An investigation was launched into Sanders' conduct after he was confronted by directors from MFA Properties, which owns the Dartford pub and bowling alleys around the south east, after discrepancies were uncovered for the first four weeks of January in 2019.

On Monday, the court heard how Sanders admitted to stealing £9,700 in cash over the four-week period, but said it was to help a family member who was in financial difficulty.

He paid back the full amount – £7,000 in cash the following day and £2,700 by bank transfer after selling his car and getting a loan – within two weeks.

On Wednesday, the court heard how Sanders, who was earning £23,000 when he started working for the pub which later rose to £30,000 a year, was questioned about how he was able to pay for multiple holidays by cash within the space of a few months.

He claimed two of the holidays, an engagement ring, and deposit for a new flat he moved into, were paid for by his grandfather who would often give him money and urged him to live his life.

Sanders claimed there should be documentation from Natwest which shows the money was sent by his grandfather, who died in August 2018 after the multiple holidays were booked. The Chatham man, who was his grandfather’s only grandchild, confirmed he was not left any inheritance money.

Further evidence from the interviews outlined how police questioned Sanders about a concerning pattern of money not being taken to the bank.

They asked why in the week’s before and after his holidays there were consistent days when money went missing, however, when he was on holiday and the responsibility fell to the next in command, usually a supervisor, there was no money missing.

Sanders said he understood why it looked suspicious, but he couldn’t explain it.

Defence barrister John Lyons questioned the police’s fraud investigator Oscar Riba Domingo about banking slips which were sent to MFA Properties.

The crown’s case is that on regular occasions only six out of seven days' banking slips were taken to the bank and cashed into the business’ account by Sanders.

However, Mr Lyons questioned whether any investigation was done into whether Sanders was at the pub on days money went missing and he wasn’t at any of the other MFA Properties. It was explained he also worked at bowling centres in Whitstable, Chatham, Lewisham, Weymouth and Southend.

He also questioned whether or not any investigation was done into the handwriting of signatures on banking slips, pointing out that on many of the slips where Sanders had allegedly signed the handwriting, style of signature and writing of numbers, such as a number seven, was different.

Mr Domingo confirmed this wasn’t looked into.

The jury is set to be sent out to consider its verdict on Monday morning.

The trial continues.

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