Sawley abbatoir worker stole £15-000-worth of meat and diesel

A TRUSTED and long-serving member of staff at a Ribble Valley abattoir stole an estimated £15,000-worth of meat and diesel after hatching a plan with a hard-up security guard.

Blackburn magistrates heard CCTV would be disabled so Robert Bedford could turn up at the Dunbia plant on the A59 near Sawley at 4 a.m. and load up with a side of beef or fill up with diesel.

He would leave and then return to start work later when the CCTV had been reactivated. But the early hours activity was detected by a company director who kept watch one morning after suspicions had been aroused.

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Bedford (60), of Ashleigh Street, Darwen, admitted a charge of theft by employee between April 2011 and November 2011. He was sent on bail to Preston Crown Court for sentence.

Mr John Wood (prosecuting) said Bedford had worked for Dunbia since 1980 and was a highly-regarded member of staff, trusted to open up the plant in the morning.

He told police he had become aware of a security guard who was having financial difficulties and had persuaded him to get involved. On his way to work he would ring ahead and the security guard would switch off the CCTV system. Bedford would drive in and load a side of meat into his car before leaving. He would return shortly after and be captured on CCTV arriving for work as normal.

“He would pay the guard £25 and he would receive another £100 from a butcher to whom he was selling the meat,” said Mr Wood. “This kind of behaviour had been going on for some considerable time.”

Bedford, who was not represented by a solicitor, said it had been costing him a lot of money to travel to work and back each day and he learned the security officer had some debts.

“That was what led to the temptation,” said Bedford. “I have regretted it ever since. I would like to pay the money back to Dunbia. I just want to get matters over and done with and get on with my life. This has been hanging over me for something like 15 months.”