THE FORMER HEAD of financial accounting at two NHS trusts has been jailed for stealing £2.2m of NHS funds, which he used to buy a portfolio 11 properties in Sussex and London.
Trevor Barry Cosson (38) defrauded the cash from Hastings and Rother Primary Care Trust and East Sussex Downs and Weald Primary Care Trust, setting up standing orders in the names of regular suppliers but paying money into his own bank accounts.
He was sentenced to five years and four months in prison at Blackfriars Crown Court after admitting the charges after an investigation by NHS Protect.
Sue Frith, head of the National Investigation Service at NHS Protect, said Cosson had "abused his position of trust so that he could live a lifestyle that he could not afford".
"Stealing from the NHS is not a victimless crime as this money could have been used to provide healthcare locally," she said.
Between 2008 and 2011, Cosson authorised £810,000 in standing order payments from Hastings and Rother PCT, which went into accounts he controlled. A further £1.4m was taken from both trusts, which shared a finance department, between 2011 and 2012 using an internal payments system.
The fraud was discovered during a restructuring of both trusts. The PCTs were disbanded and a new organisation was created - Sussex and Surrey Commissioning Support Unit - which had responsibility for financial matters. An end of year audit carried out by the new body revealed suspicious payments of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Plans are under way to sell Cosson's properties in order to reclaim the funds taken.
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