Warrington Culture is responsible for managing Warrington Museum & Art Gallery

Finance director admits stealing £29,000 from culture trusts

Geraldine Kendall, 09.01.2015
Court hears that senior manager stole funds to support drug habit
The finance director of two independent trusts for cultural services in Warrington, Cheshire, has pleaded guilty to stealing £28,670 from his employers.

Craig Stockham was on the senior management team at Livewire and Culture Warrington, two companies set up in 2012 to oversee museum, library and leisure services in the city on behalf of Warrington council.

At a hearing at Halton Magistrates Court last week, Stockham admitted falsifying invoices and stealing around £24,000 from Livewire and £4,670 from Culture Warrington, which manages Parr Hall and Warrington Museum.

According to a report on court proceedings published by the Warrington Guardian, the theft was discovered last November shortly before Stockham had been due to leave the organisations with a £18,000 severance package.

Describing the theft as a “very serious breach of trust”, the prosecutor told the court that Stockham had tested positive for cocaine on arrest and that his bank accounts indicated he was heavily in debt after spending up to £150 a day on the drug.

"The financial impact is minimal as we are covered for the loss by our insurers who have confirmed this; the museum is financially unaffected by this incident," said a spokeswoman from Warrington Culture.

In a joint statement, the companies said that an independent audit had been carried out since the theft was uncovered, and had found their systems and procedures to be "appropriate".

"This theft occurred as a result of a senior officer in a position of authority abusing his role and the trust placed in him," said the statement.

Jan Souness, the managing director of both trusts, said Stockham had been a “trusted and valued member” of the senior management team and his actions had had a “devastating impact”.

"Whilst we are insured for the loss and so the impact on both companies in a material sense is minimal, it is the sense of betrayal that has been the hardest to cope with,” said Souness.

Stockham was remanded on bail and will appear in Warrington Crown Court in three weeks’ time for sentencing.