Journalist jailed for stealing for good



People

People

A former journalist of The People, a national newspaper, has been jailed for defrauding £370,000 from his previous employer, and donating much of it to a charity and a school.

Lee Horton spent 8 years working as sports editor at The People, and invented contributors and claimed between £150 and £390 for work attributed to them.

He was tried at Southwark Crown Court, who heard he had not used the stolen money for a lavish lifestyle.

Horton, of Chelmsford in Essex, admitted false accounting and money laundering and was jailed for 15 months.

The £90,000-a-year journalist was very well paid anyway, but was not caught for so long because the figures stolen were below the £500 limit which required authorisation from senior management.

Horton spent the money on his daughter’s education, donated money to her school and gave funds to a Down’s Syndrome charity.

The journalist also paid for morale-boosting holiday for his colleagues, taking them on a golf trip.

David Levy, prosecuting, said Horton admitted being “ridiculously generous” with other people’s money.

Horton has already paid back nearly £300,000 and the remainder will be repaid when his house is sold.

Tara McCarthy, defending Horton pointed out the victim, “wasn’t a vulnerable old lady”.

McCarthy added: “He has lost everything. His home, his pension and he is probably going to lose his wife.

“And he is never going to be able to work in the industry which he absolutely adores.”

Sentencing him, Judge John Price said: “You have been suffering from anxiety and depression and to cap it all off your wife is taking divorce proceedings.

“It is an extraordinary and sad case. It distresses me to do what I have to do.

“I regard you as a decent man who fell foul and behaved badly.

“But it is over now and you will be out in a matter of months. It will pass.”

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