Man stole £28,000 from Warwick company to finance an extravagant lifestyle

The justice centre in Leamington, where Warwick Crown Court sits
The justice centre in Leamington, where Warwick Crown Court sits

The warehouse manager at a Warwick-based halal food company stole £28,000 to finance an extravagant lifestyle which included a £1600 one-night hotel stay.

But Mazen Murshid has now been found less salubrious accommodation with full board – in a prison cell.

After first denying a charge of fraud while working for Warwick-based A&J Audhali Fresh Farm Foods, he changed his plea to guilty on the day of his trial at Warwick Crown Court.

And following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on him, Murshid, 46, of Brook Lane, Billesley, Birmingham, was jailed for 27 months.

Prosecutor Peter Cooper said Murshid had worked for A&J Audhali as the warehouse manager at its base in Harriott Drive, Warwick, since October 2008.

The company, run by brothers Jeffrey and Andrew Audhali, is involved in the wholesale supply of halal meat and Murshid’s role included generating invoices and collecting cash payments made to the delivery drivers.

Mr Cooper said Murshid committed frauds in two ways to pocket £28,000 over an 18-month period from January 2011.

In some cases he altered invoices which had been paid in cash to show a lower figure, and pocketed the difference.

But he then adopted a system to take advantage of situations where two customers were being invoiced for the same sum – by billing both customers with the same invoice number.

And when they paid, one customer’s payment would go through the books and Murshid would keep the other.

Mr Cooper said Murshid had been on a basic salary of £16,000 plus around £3,000 in commission.

But as well as transferring £9,500 to an account in the Yemen, he had been living an extravagant lifestyle, making trips abroad and staying in expensive hotels, with one night alone costing £1,600 at one hotel.

When he was arrested and questioned, Murshid claimed the company had been putting him up in hotels and hiring cars for him, and alleged he had been framed by his former employers.

Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told Murshid: “Employees such as yourself, working in a small family business, are in a position of trust and you abused that trust.

“It has completely undermined the basis of trust on which the business had previously operated, and it has had a significant effect on their profits.

“I accept you are sorry, but that sorrow would have had more force if you had accepted your guilt from the outset.”