Former site manager at Harland & Wolff Harland & Wolff jailed for stealing scrap metal
A former site manager at Harland & Wolff has been jailed for four months for stealing scrap metal from the shipyard worth more than £17,000 – and must repay the sum within six months.
Hugh Hutchinson (57), from Sheringhurst Park, Belfast, pleaded guilty to 41 counts of theft from the east Belfast shipyard between September 16, 2010 and September 5 the following year.
Belfast Crown Court heard the company received an anonymous letter tipping it off about the theft of the scrap which sparked an internal investigation.
Prosecuting counsel Philip Henry said quantities of scrap metal from the shipyard were taken by van and forklift to a nearby recycling centre to be sold.
He told Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland that cheques for the scrap metal should have been made out to Harland & Wolff, but instead 41 of them were made out in Hutchinson's name, totalling £17,225.15 over the year.
Mr Henry said Hutchinson had "breached his position of trust'' in his role as site foreman who was allowed to remove the metal from the area to be scrapped.
The court heard that Hutchinson was to have been sacked for gross misconduct after admitting the theft, but "walked out'' before the end of a disciplinary meeting and later resigned from the company after 40 years' service.
A defence solicitor claimed that the practice of taking the metal from the shipyard to be scrapped and sold off had become "part and parcel of the job''. "The monies were divided up with other members of staff who would go for a drink after work,'' he said.