A FORMER pub manager betrayed the trust of his employer by pocketing the wages of 'ghost employees'.

Christopher May, 36, was jailed at Worcester Crown Court after admitting the £33,000 fraud while managing the Honey Bee pub in Doverdale Lane, Doverdale, near Droitwich.

May, who has been branded 'stupid' and a 'loser' by his former boss at the pub, admitting fraud by false representation between August 1, 2014 and June 18 last year.

He further admitted a common assault on June 17 last year on a member of the pub's staff, an action which ultimately led to a financial investigation.

Richard Davenport, prosecuting, said May and his wife were general managers at the pub at the time of the fraud.

Mr Davenport said May had been 'behaving aggressively' towards a staff member, Miles McLaughlin, who had put a sausage in another employee's drink.

This caused May to sack Mr McLaughlin and throw him out of the pub.

May made threats to Mr Davenport and at one point grabbed his arm, causing scratches, the court was told.

Later, the complainant reported the matter to the police but received 'threatening calls' from May, which led to an investigation by the pub's owner, Phil Weaver, of King Henry's Taverns.

As a result May was sacked.

During his investigation Mr Weaver became aware that May had been claiming wages on behalf of 'ghost employees', people who had at some time worked at the pub but no longer did.

May claimed various amounts in the names of six former employees, ranging from £149 to more than £26,000. The total fraud was £33,135.

Sukhdev Bisla, defending, said: "He has made full admissions. He accepted his stupidity and foolishness. He fully intends to pay back every penny."

Recorder, Justin Wigoder, said: "You had a responsible job and you had, self-evidently, the trust of your employer.

"You began abusing that system, creating what are known as ghost employees, people who weren't actually working there, pretending they were working there, filling in the wage slips and pocketing the cash. You did that over a lengthy period."

May, now of Douglas House, Cardiff, was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Mr Weaver, speaking after the hearing, said: "The real irony of it is that, when he was running the pub in its heyday 18 months ago, it was doing a very good trade.

"Had he run it honestly he would have made that money as a bonus and would not have been in prison. How stupid is that? He's another loser."