A CON artist who stole more than £1million from Lancashire County Council has been ordered to pay back less than a sixth of what he stole.

Stephen Crewdson, 47, lived a luxury lifestyle, buying an Aston Martin and splashing out £172,000 on credit cards and £38,000 on holidays, during the four-year con.

The father-of-three, who was a senior figure at the council's Whalley engineering depot where he worked as a contracts manager, established his own company, BBM, to siphon off funds for contracts, some of which were never even undertaken.


Crewdson, formerly of Old Langho, even embroiled two East Lancashire tradesmen in his plot, persuading them to run invoices through their books, Preston Crown Court heard during a four-week trial

After being found guilty of two offences of fraud and two charges of money laundering, Crewdson was jailed for seven and a half years and told he would be made subject of Proceeds of Crime investigations.

Those investigations concluded that his only remaining asset was £159,450 from the sale of his house in Chapel Close, Old Langho, Blackburn.

Crewdson, most recently of Ducie Street, Manchester, was told if he fails to repay that within 28 days he will serve an additional 32 months in prison and still owe £159,450.

Once collected the money will be repaid to Lancashire County Council.

Debbie Porter, assistant director, fraud investigation service, at HMRC, said: "Crewdson’s crimes have put him behind bars and now he has been stripped of everything he had.

"He thought his crimes could be hidden through a web of fake invoices and multiple bank accounts but he was very wrong.

"HMRC is determined to recover money stolen from UK taxpayers. Public funds are crucially important so if you suspect someone of tax fraud report it on 0800 788 887."

During the trial Mark Monaghan, prosecuting, said Crewdson had persuaded the boss of a Blackburn-based builders, who was an approved council contractor, to process payments for a series of major engineering contracts.

He told the man that the work was being carried out by various firms which were not then approved by the authority.

The company was allowed to keep five per cent of the contract value, with 95 per cent being transferred to BBM.

Crewdson also approached a second man, who ran his own groundworks firm, asking him to process a series of invoices, totalling £30,000, along similar lines.

But Crewdson was caught out when the Blackburn-based builders book-keeper queried an invoice with one supposed sub-contractor, Roocrofts.

That sparked an investigation by HMRC who unravelled Crewdson's "sophisticated scheme to defraud his employers and taxpayers".

When Crewdson was sentenced in November, Judge Graham Knowles QC said: “You have been convicted on most overwhelming evidence and your brazen lies. You were in breach of trust at LCC and of the public of Lancashire.

"Your mild manner and other virtues concealed your corrupt core."