Essex ex-taxi firm worker who stole £86k is selling his home to pay back the company

Chelmsford Crown Court. File picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Chelmsford Crown Court. File picture: LUCY TAYLOR - Credit: Lucy taylor

A taxi firm worker, who pocketed more than £86,000 in fares and was jailed for a year, is selling his family home to repay the company.

Daren Howarth, 46, of Cressing Road, Braintree, was back before a judge to face a confiscation of assets hearing.

Judge Christopher Morgan, sitting at Chelmsford Crown Court, ruled that Howarth had benefited by £86,683 from his crime and he should hand over £32,535, from his share of the equity in the matrimonial home.

Howarth, who worked as a controller for Excellent Connections Ltd, which trades as Fargo Link and Chelmsford Taxibus, had pleaded guilty to theft by employee between May 2014 and April last year.

He set up a fake driver account so the theft would not be noticed and arranged for actual drivers to carry out the work.

Judge Morgan was told that Howarth was in the process of selling the family home.

Compensation to Excellent Connections will be paid from the confiscation sum.

The judge told Howarth he had to pay over the money within three months or face 12 months in prison in default: “If you serve time for default you don’t get half remission and the debt remains, it doesn’t go away and interest is added.”

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During his sentencing, in February, the court heard Howarth admitted the crime when interviewed by police, and later pleaded guilty at his first court appearance to theft by employee.

Evelyn Hicks, mitigating, had said Howarth was battling a gambling addiction which came to the fore after the death of his father in 2014.

During the sentencing hearing Ms Hicks added: “This is a man who has got dependent children. His home is heavily mortgaged and his wife cannot pay the mortgage without him and his family may be out on the streets.

“This is a man who will lose everything and perhaps his wife and children.”

However the court had been told during the February hearing that Howarth had obtained a new job.

At the sentencing the judge had accepted genuine remorse shown by Howarth, demonstrated by him handing back wages when he left the role, and heard he had taken steps to tackle his gambling addiction. However he was unable to suspend the sentence due to the amount of money stolen and the level of planning that went into the theft.

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