An IT manager in Essex, UK has been sentenced to five years in prison after defrauding an NHS trust through hundreds of payments to fake data center and communications companies he owned.

Barry Stannard was sentenced to five years and four months imprisonment for defrauding the NHS and HMRC of over £800,000 ($1.1 million) at Chelmsford Crown Court.

In May, Stannard pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud by false representation and two of cheating the public revenue.

– NHS/Thinkstock

Stannard committed the offenses when he was Head of Unified Communications at Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust (MEHT), which has since been merged into Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

Over the course of at least seven years, he was submitting and settling invoices to two companies he was the director of.

"Mr. Stannard was also sole director of two companies," prosecutor Amy Oliver told Chelmsford Crown Court, as reported by the Register. "One was called Data Centre Power Services Limited, incorporated in December 2011, and the other was called BNC Communications Limited and was incorporated in July 2013."

Stannard had previously declared he had no conflicts of interest, and subsequently submitted hundreds of invoices of “relatively modest amounts” he was authorized to sign off without further checks. As a band 8B senior manager, he was authorized to sign off invoices of up to £7,500 ($10,300).

"Mr. Stannard would forge the invoices or emails to his colleagues at the trust," added Oliver. "Some of these emails would supposedly come from individuals working at Data Centre Power Ltd and BNC Communications Ltd, Sarah Mills and Simon Wood. There's no evidence these individuals worked for these companies; these were essentially false identities used by Mr. Stannard."

The payments came from MEHT’s IT budget, according to the NHS CFA. The Trust investigated after a data matching exercise on its payroll and accounts payable records was compared with Companies House records and showed Stannard as director of two MEHT suppliers.

“While the IT manager methodically siphoned NHS money into his own pocket, no products or services invoiced for by these companies were ever provided to the NHS,” said the NHS Counter Fraud Authority.

“Barry Stannard abused his position in an outrageous way to line his pockets with money intended for NHS services,” added Sue Frith, CEO of the NHSCFA.Today’s sentence shows that the NHSCFA’s investigative and preventative work tackling NHS fraud is vital.”

The Reg reports that confiscation proceedings are underway. The court heard that the home – the renovation of which he said was his motivation for the fraud – had been previously sold.

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