10:19am Wednesday 11th April 2007
By David Watkinson
A BUSINESSMAN who bragged of a £10million fortune and owning a fleet of high-performance cars stole £680,000 to fund his lavish lifestyle.
David Walsh, 38, also boasted of owning homes in Dubai and Spain - but he has now been warned by a judge to expect a "substantial" jail term after admitting theft from his employers.
After the case, police said that they believed other people could have been targeted by the crooked accountant - and they are anxious to speak to them.
And the managing director of the company which he stole from said Walsh's action had almost brought the business to its knees.
Walsh first began working for Concept Building Solutions, Hey Road, Clitheroe, as an accountant in March 2004.
Within days he had started stealing cash and during the next two years he made more than 200 separate thefts from the company, the court was told.
Blackburn-born Walsh drove two Ferraris and bragged of a £10million fortune and owning a Porsche, a Mercedes and a Range Rover, Preston Crown Court was told.
But the thief told people he was a former Blackburn College student and Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School pupil.
Nick Dean QC, defending, said: "He lived a life well beyond his means.
"A life that he could only fund through the theft that he pleaded guilty to.
"The assumption that he is a man of financial substance does not match the reality."
But Bob Platt, prosecuting, added: "He maintains that he is a man of great financial wealth, particularly in Dubai, where he claims to have several homes."
Walsh, of Prince's Reach, Preston, was only found out in January 2006 when directors at the company, which has 112 local offices in the UK and Ireland, noticed the large amount of money had gone missing and police were called.
After the case, Darren Griffin, managing director of Concept Building Solutions, which specialises in managing building insurance claims, said that Walsh had almost brought the company to its knees.
He said: "Everything he did when he was at the company was a charade and it has taken us a year to recover from the position that he put us in.
"I am delighted that he has pleaded guilty."
Detective Constable Rod Steele, who investigated the case, said: "This man worked in a position of trust and he has abused that trust to steal a huge amount of money.
"The thefts began almost immediately after he started working there and in two years he nearly put the company out of business."
He added that Walsh also had other business interests whilst working for the company and investigations will now continue into his behaviour across East Lancashire.
He said: "It could be that other people have been taken for a ride by this man and we are keen to hear from anyone else who has been affected."
Walsh was remanded in custody until his sentencing next month.
Judge Philip Sycamore said: "You can only expect a substantial custodial sentence for such a serious offence."
A proceeds of crime hearing is expected to take place after the sentencing.
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