‘Addict’ jailed after embezzling £30,000 from University of Manchester to fund drug and alcohol habit

By Jon Robinson

A University of Manchester employee who embezzled more than £30,000 was jailed for 20 months today.

James Cleary, 40, of Melmerby Court, Salford, worked for the university for 14 years, and pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Manchester Crown Court.

His last position at the university was as a research business manager for the School of Cancer and Enabling Sciences where he was authorised to sign claims for fees.

Detective Constable Dom Brady said: “Cleary was employed in a position of trust by the University, and was given a lot of responsibility to process claims for reasonably large amounts of money.

“Sadly, he completely abused the trust the University placed in him and defrauded them to the tune of £31,984.”

In March 2011, the department were left struggling to pay a claim for fees because of insufficient funds in their account and further investigation revealed Cleary had authorised 25 separate claims over a three-and-a-half year period.

Completed under the fake name, ‘Michelle Roberts’, thousands of pounds were paid out, with enquiries later revealing that the bank account and sort code numbers on the claim forms matched those belonging to Cleary.

DC Brady added: “He admitted during interview he had a drug and alcohol addiction that he needed to fund, and freely volunteered he spent some of the embezzled cash on Blackberry mobile phones and computer.

“However, he did express remorse and I am sure now that he has been jailed he is even more sorry for his actions.”

He praised the staff at the university who have worked very closely with the police during the investigation and said that their full cooperation led to Cleary’s conviction.

DC Brady said: “I hope this also sends out a message that you should think very carefully before attempting to rip-off your employers as you could be facing a stint behind bars.”

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