Warminster soldier handed conditional discharge over expenses scam
A 'naive' soldier who plundered thousands in travel expenses has been put conditionally discharged by a judge.
Lawrence Mendy received more than £2,000 in back payments after a crooked paymaster at Battlesbury Barracks encouraged him to make the illicit claim.
But after hearing the 28-year-old was an excellent soldier who had made a silly mistake a judge imposed a sentence which she said might be lenient.
Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court on Friday that a Regimental Clerk in the payments office had been lining his own pockets.
Some time before the offending he said Mendy had been living in Birmingham, which could have entitled to him to a travel allowance for his journey to and from the base.
However, as he has not applied for the money at the time he was not entitled to get it as it is not paid in arrears.
"What should have set alarm bells ringing was he was required to pay a kickback to the officer," Mr Meeke said.
Of the £2,029 he received between August and September 2012, about half was paid to the other man.
Mendy, of Battlesbury Barracks, pleaded guilty to possessing criminal property.
Rob Ross, defending, said his client had been in the services for five years and reached the rank of Private First Class.
"It is important to know the Army's view of him. They view him as a man who was naive and foolish and no more and they would be very sad to see anything happen today that would mean they have to get rid of him," he said.
Mr Ross said they take their own actions and are making deductions from his pay to reclaim the money.
Passing sentence, Recorder Maria Lamb said "This is an unusual offence, you appear to have been sucked into this by a more sophisticated offender.
"It is accepted I think on all sides that you were rather naive and there must have been a point at which you knew this was dishonest and you swallowed your qualms and pursued your request for a back payment."
As well as a two year conditional discharge he was also ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge.