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Finance officer admits £1,800 in false claims

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 11, 2012

A town council finance officer claimed more than £1,800 in bogus expenses claims off his employer because he felt "cruelly treated after his brother was stabbed in London".

Simon Polglase, of Halamanning, Goldsithney, near Penzance, was given an 18-week sentence suspended for 12 months at Truro Crown Court yesterday.

The 45-year-old pleaded guilty to falsely claiming £1,846 in travel expenses over a three-year period during his time as finance officer and deputy town clerk at Falmouth Town Council.

The court heard how Polglase had felt a "strong sense" of grievance when he realised the rules on time off in lieu had been changed after taking compassionate leave following his brother's stabbing.

In total, he made 11 expenses claims ranging from £57 to £290 between February 2007 and February 2010.

Melville Shreeve, defending, told the court how Polglase had been very unhappy at work. He said: "He felt he was marginalised and not properly managed. He felt cruelly treated after his brother was stabbed in London.

"He took some compassionate leave, the rules on time off in lieu were changed to his detriment and this left a strong sense of grievance. I am not suggesting that justifies his conduct, he doesn't feel it justifies his conduct."

The court heard how Polglase had been working for the town council since 2003, receiving a promotion in 2006.

Jo Martin, prosecuting, said he had abused his position in charge of putting through claims by processing his own payments.

She explained he would often amend his own claims by adding to them after they were signed off by town clerk Mark Williams.

She added that when interviewed Polglase had initially denied any wrongdoing, claiming someone else removed his receipts and replaced them with fake ones.

Recorder Paul Grumbar, sentencing, said: "People who pay their taxes and dues expect public servants in the town council to deal with their money.

"They don't expect to have it stolen by people like you and my view is that you have been absolutely disgraceful."

Mr Williams, speaking outside court, said Falmouth council has since changed its system to ensure such a situation could not re-occur.

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