Suspended term for council employee who stole £35k

David Steadman stole thousands from Adur District Council while employed as town centres coordinator. Picture by Eddie Mitchell SUS-161018-152118001
David Steadman stole thousands from Adur District Council while employed as town centres coordinator. Picture by Eddie Mitchell SUS-161018-152118001

A council employee who admitted to stealing £35,000 during his work running markets across Adur has been given a suspended sentence and ordered to repay the money.

David Steadman appeared at Lewes Crown Court today to be sentenced after pleading guilty last month.

Steadman, 70, of East Street in Shoreham had admitted stealing £35,000 over several years in his work for Adur District Council.

Matthew Heywood, prosecuting, said Steadman’s role involved collecting money from sellers at markets in Shoreham and Steyning.

The theft was discovered when the council decided to ‘internally investigate’ options for the future of the markets, Mr Heywood said.

He said this was a ‘high culpability case’ because the offending took place over a ‘sustained period of time’.

Andrew Turton, defending, said the offending ‘incrementally increased over a six-year period’.

“Last year it was about £10,000,” he said.

“I have been told it was between 10 and 15 per cent in the later year,” he said, referring to the proportion of the total council money from market takings stolen.

Steadman’s final salary in his work for Adur District Council had been £30,000, according to the defence.

Mr Turton said Steadman had ‘no other mark against his name’.

“In a sense there is no true victim in this case,” he added.

“I say that because this is not a case where council tax has increased or will increase as a result of his offending.”

Judge Guy Anthony rejected this, however.

“The money available to spend as a result of his offending has been reduced.”

“Society as a whole and in particular inhabitants of Adur District Council have all suffered,” he said.

Steadman was given a 15-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

If he fails to repay the money he will face an additional 12-month jail term.