The former manager of a Holmfirth pub, who used fictitious debts to hide its true financial position, has to repay £4,475.05 under a confiscation order.

Paul Kempster 45, was given a 21-month prison sentenced suspended for two years with 250 hours unpaid work at Leeds Crown Court last year after admitting false accounting.

At that hearing Judge Tom Bayliss QC was told as a result of what he did Kempster was able to maintain his position at the Huntsman Inn and keep the business going leading to bonuses for him when that otherwise might not have been the case.

Had the brewery JW Lees known the true position about debts sooner they would at the very least have “restructured” the business, said Jeremy Hill-Baker prosecuting.

Deposits from functions such as weddings were used to pay staff while fictitious debtors were created as Kempster sought to keep the business appear to be extremely profitable.

He had impressed the brewery after he began working at the pub in 2005 but in 2012 they decided to change a policy allowing debtors 90 days to pay bills to 30 days instead.

Pressure was put on Kempster to bring the level of debts down but he became evasive and sent e-mails saying other pubs and hotels in the area had closed while his way of running the business had kept the Huntsman afloat.

He said he knew the debtors and had total confidence they would pay and asked for some leeway but was told he must reduce the debt.

The Huntsman

By April 2013 he admitted using the debtors list to hide the position and that he had used customer function deposits to cover other costs. He express regret and remorse and submitted his resignation.

A brewery representative went to the Huntsman and found Kempster was not there and discovered four boxes of documents had been dumped in the bins.

A financial investigation estimated debts of around £254,000 and a functions deposit shortfall of around £89,000.

Mr Hill-Baker said there was no evidence of Kempster, of Wigan, siphoning off money for his own benefit but rather keeping the business afloat to his own employment advantage.

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John Harrison representing Kempster said his fault had been “running the business as his own rather than someone else’s” when they were bearing the risks. He said that was a very different case to the fraud initially alleged against the defendant.

He had increased the turnover at the public house as a result of his actions. It was accepted that had led to performance bonuses for him but his motivation was to keep the business going for everybody.

At Leeds Crown Court Judge James Spencer QC was told it was agreed Kempster’s benefit from criminal conduct was £43,500 with £4,475.05 available to pay a confiscation order, that amount to be applied in compensation to the brewery J.W. Lees. He was given three months to pay with five months in prison in default.