Belfast Telegraph

Tyrone chef who stole to feed cocaine and gambling habits told pay up or face jail

Chef Brian Taylor outside court yesterday
Chef Brian Taylor outside court yesterday

By George Jackson

A chef who admitted stealing £13,000 from his two business partners in order to pay for his cocaine and gambling addictions was yesterday given until June 24 to repay the money.

At the Crown Court in Londonderry yesterday, Judge Philip Babington told Brian Taylor (31), from Oldtown Street in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, that if the money was not repaid by that date he would be sent to jail immediately.

Taylor pleaded guilty to stealing £13,000 from his two business partners between November 2016 and March 2017, but the prosecution was only able to prove £7,654 of the amount.

As a result of Taylor's offending, the restaurant he set up with his two friends and business partners had to close in May 2017 at a financial loss to each of his partners of £30,000.

Taylor and his partners, all of them chefs, set up the El Toro Flame Restaurant in Magherafelt in November 2016 and almost immediately Taylor started to use the company's debit card to finance his addictions.

One payment was for £500 to the Pot Black snooker hall in Cookstown in January 2017.

In the same month Taylor used the card during a three-day stay in Belfast following a staff Christmas party to withdraw £1,500 from the company's bank account.

The following month he stole £2,500 in wages and tips from the restaurant safe. Taylor also took out a loan with one of the company's suppliers, Lynas Food Services in Coleraine.

He took out the £2,500 loan in the name of the El Toro company, but his first repayment bounced.

After the financial discrepancies were discovered by his two partners the matters were reported to the police.

Taylor told the police: "I had pretty severe gambling and cocaine addiction like, so I used the bank card and all."

Taylor, who made immediate admissions and apologised to his former partners - one of whom said he'd lost his life savings because of Taylor's offending - currently works as a chef in another restaurant in Magherafelt, where he earns £550 net per week.

His defence barrister said Taylor had saved £1,200 in terms of compensation and was willing to pay £200 per week of compensation to his former business partners.

Judge Babington told Taylor, who had 13 previous criminal convictions, that while the court was not a debt collection agency, if a defendant had the ability to pay compensation to an injured party, the court would facilitate some sort of repayment system if possible.

He said such a facility did not happen in every case.

Judge Babington told Taylor he was adjourning sentencing in the case until June 24 to allow him to repay his former business partners.

"By that date I expect you to come to court with £5,600 as well as an additional £1,200 to go towards any shortfall," he told Taylor.

"If you do that I will deal with you on that date.

"If by that date you have repaid the money you will not be going to prison immediately.

"I will possibly impose a suspended sentence or some alternative community order.

"But if you do not keep up your repayments you will go straight to prison."

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