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Serial conman from Tovil who blew £260k on drugs and prostitutes jailed again after changing name and defrauding Holiday Inn, Rochester

A serial conman who once swindled his bosses out of £260,000 to blow on drugs and escort parties is back behind bars for defrauding two more employers after changing his name by deed poll.

Accountant Darren Carvill was jailed for two-and-a-half years in 2019 after stealing from national car servicing company Mr Clutch while based at its head office in Strood.

Darren Carvill changed his name to Darren Medhurst after being released from prison
Darren Carvill changed his name to Darren Medhurst after being released from prison

The crooked worker transferred a total of £262,234 from multiple franchises which he disguised as payments to genuine suppliers and traders.

Much of the money was taken in just two days and spent in what his lawyer later described as "a weekend of madness".

However, following his release from prison and having changed his surname to Medhurst, the 43-year-old landed a job in June 2021 as a finance assistant with a Sevenoaks-based travel agency.

Having not declared his name change, the fraudster went on to pilfer £76,754 from 360 Travel Ltd in the space of three weeks in July and August 2022, paying the money into his own bank accounts, including one in Hong Kong.

Then, having been challenged by the firm, questioned by police and released under investigation, Medhurst took up a new job at the Holiday Inn in Rochester, where in April last year he brazenly helped himself to a further £13,000 on the very day he was due to meet with management over their discovery of his criminal past.

He initially targeted Mr Clutch in Strood
He initially targeted Mr Clutch in Strood

None of the money, which was taken to "make himself feel better", has ever been recovered, Maidstone Crown Court heard during his latest sentencing hearing on Friday (May 10) for two offences of fraud by abuse of position and one of theft.

Prosecutor Stacey-Lee Holland explained that in his job with the travel firm, Medhurst had access to the company bank accounts and was able to send and make payments without the usual two-step authentication.

He covered his tracks by noting the payments to himself as "expenses" and marking them with the reference "director".

But the court heard it was Medhurst's own "strange" behaviour which led to his deceit being discovered.

"He didn't come into work, he stated his mum had dementia and that he was struggling. That became more frequent and it was only at that stage that the payments were noticed," said Ms Holland.

"When confronted he stated he 'had no choice', and when interviewed voluntarily at the police station he admitted to taking the funds, that he had spent the money and there was none left.

"He said he had been down at the time and this was a way to make himself feel better."

‘Your name carries that stain of dishonesty by what you did…’

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the owner of 360 Travel, James Turner, said that as well as the "huge" cost of investigating his former employee's dishonesty, it caused "considerable distress" to other staff who were "shocked to work with someone who betrayed their trust".

Medhurst, of Albert Reed Gardens, Tovil, was released under investigation by police and later started working at the Holiday Inn as a receptionist.

But, by the time he was again in the role of finance assistant, with responsibility for safes, cash drops, payments into tills and for refunds, his past offending as Darren Carvill caught up with him.

Ms Holland said the fraudster was suspended and it was arranged for him to meet with management on April 28 last year to prove his identity.

However, despite the pending exposure of his criminal reputation, an undeterred Medhurst helped himself to more money with what a judge described as "a lot of front".

"He arrived at work in the early hours, and before his appointment time, wearing his uniform," continued the prosecutor.

"He entered the office, completed a refund of £9,784 and paid it onto his bank card. He did that almost immediately on having entered work that day.

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

"He then went into the cash office, opened the safes and removed £3,261 in cash, hiding it in his jacket.

"He was blatant in his actions because, as he left, he lifted his jacket, showing the cash, and said to a colleague 'See you in the morning' and left the hotel."

It was another month, however, before the swindler was arrested after police found him lying face-down and intoxicated on a grass verge at the side of a road in Maidstone.

When Ms Holland told the court that the stolen money was never found, Medhurst piped up from the dock that the £9,784 refund did not reach his bank account.

"I'm a fraudster and I don't expect you to believe me but I never got that money," he remarked.

Ms Holland said however that Holiday Inn had stated their attempt to put a stop to that transaction failed.

Medhurst, who has since been working for restaurant chain Toby Carvery, later pleaded guilty to all three offences.

He tried to take £13,000 from The Holiday Inn in Chatham. Picture: Charlie Davis
He tried to take £13,000 from The Holiday Inn in Chatham. Picture: Charlie Davis

He has 57 previous crimes to his name, with 52 of them for fraud or fraud-related, the court heard.

As well as his conviction in 2019 for a total of 18 frauds, he had been handed a suspended sentence 11 years earlier for 34 offences of similar dishonesty.

Katie Bacon, defending, said Medhurst had changed his name so he could gain employment but had not "sought out" financial roles.

Expressing his "deep remorse", she added that his latest offending occurred as he was grieving for his father, caring for his mother and then, following her death, living in hotels after being evicted from the family home.

"He is not someone who continually seeks to offend but someone who has taken the wrong path at a time of difficulty," said Ms Bacon.

The Holiday Inn offences occurred, she explained, when he had "hit rock bottom and panicked" at the prospect of being found out and losing his job.

But Ms Bacon said the now restaurant shift supervisor was a "valued and supported" staff member, with his current bosses knowing about his convictions and his latest court appearance.

Jailing Medhurst for three years, Judge Julian Smith said although his frauds lacked "sophistication and meticulous planning", they demonstrated "a lot of determination" and "breath-taking dishonesty".

‘I'm a fraudster and I don't expect you to believe me but I never got that money…’

Speaking directly to Medhurst he added: "I want you to understand, and understand clearly, I am dealing with what you have done here, not what you have done in your past.

"But you cannot escape your past by changing your name and not declaring that.

"You are not a victim. Others are the victims. Your name carries that stain of dishonesty by what you did. By not declaring it is misrepresenting your background.

"You may want to wipe the slate clean. You can't do that by not declaring."

With particular reference to his theft and fraud at the Holiday Inn, the judge said that although there was no evidence as to where the "refund" payment had ended up, his actions that day were "brazen and extraordinary".

Judge Smith also remarked that the character reference from Toby Carvery showed "optimism for the future".

But he told Medhurst: "There is no doubting your ability. One of the strange things is that you at times appear to use it for dishonest purposes."

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