Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Sam's Yer Man brought down by bent accountant who stole £250k

A crooked accountant single-handedly brought down a famous Belfast retailer after he stole a quarter of a million pounds from the company’s bank accounts.

William George Reid now faces jail after he pleaded guilty to a total of 16 offences against Holywood Road-based S & R Electrics. The business founded by Sam Duff snr and later run by his son Sam jnr is best better known as Sam’s Yer Man after its catchy advertising jingle – Sam’s Yer Man for a Bargain.

Reid (64), who lives at an apartment in Movilla Street, Newtownards, recently appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court along with his wife to be formally arraigned over the massive fraud.

He admitted to fraud by abuse of his position as S & R Electrics internal accountant. Reid further held his hands up to three counts of theft, six of forgery and three counts of using a false instrument with intent, all committed on dates between January 2006 and November 2013.

The majority of the charges related to S & R Electrics, but a number of offences were also against JSR Properties and North Down Hockey Club.

His wife Diane Reid, of Ardara Elms in Comber, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of entering into an arrangement with her husband to acquire criminal property.

The 62-year-old was due to go on trial but following discussions within the PPS and detectives it was decided not to proceed with the case against her.

As her jury trial was pending, no details of her husband’s guilty plea could have been reported until now.

As a result, the prosecution last week applied to have the sole charge she faced left on the books and not to be proceeded with without the leave of the Crown Court or the Court of Appeal.

Mrs Reid walked to freedom and her husband was released on continuing bail ahead of a sentencing hearing later this year following the preparation of pre-sentence and medical reports.

Security sources told Sunday life that William Reid had “single-handedly’’ caused the collapse of S&R electrics.

“William Reid was the internal accountant who helped himself to £250,000 in cash belonging to ‘Sam’s Yer Man’, siphoning it from its bank accounts and putting it into his own,’’ said a source familiar with the case.

“The investigation team could find no evidence that he lived an extravagant lifestyle or that he had any gambling problems or any other addictions.

“He liked to be the flash guy at the bar, buying rounds of drinks for his pals. But it wasn’t his cash. He stole it all from ‘Sam’s Yer Man’.’’

The security source said that when detectives from Musgrave Street police station were called in, both Reid and his wife Diane were quizzed.

“When Diane Reid was questioned, she was genuinely shocked about this joint account in her and her husband’s names.

“She told detectives she never went near the account and he handled all their financial affairs. When detectives searched their house they even found bank statements for the account which hadn’t been opened.

“So once he pleaded guilty, we had got our man. On balance, it would not have been fair to put Mrs Reid on trial for his crimes so it was decided to discontinue the trial against her.

“But this is a very serious breach of trust case and it is very likely he will go to prison for his crimes.’’

The fraud caused Sam Duff jnr to close one of Belfast’s most popular retail electrical outlets with the loss of 20 jobs at its stores in east Belfast and Newtownards.

Administrators BDO said at the time that it was a “sad reality” that customers who were left out of pocket may never recover their debts.

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