AN ENERGY company worker’s £16,000 swindle unravelled when bailiffs went to an innocent customer’s home because his account was in the red due to his scam.

Opus Energy employee Damien Jones, 41, from Penarth, was in charge of paying refunds to clients but started pocketing the money himself.

The gas and electricity supplier traced the money to the customer services representative’s bank in Barry.

Jones diverted £16,549 of refunds meant for customers to his own account between February and April 2021.

Prosecutor Paul Hewitt said that when the police knocked at the defendant’s door to arrest him, he told them: “My head was gone, I thought I could get away with it.

“I'm not going to say I didn't do it when you're going to find out I did do it anyway.”

Mr Hewitt added: “He was placed in a role where he was to safeguard details of customer accounts so he was in a higher place of trust and responsibility because he could access monies that had to be refunded to clients.

“He had a higher degree of trust and responsibility and only abuse of it meant he was able to commit this offence."

Jones, of Cwrt Dochdwy, Llandough, pleaded guilty to fraud.

Cardiff Crown Court heard the defendant had previous convictions for handling stolen goods, theft, possession of an offensive weapon and assault.

Adam Sharp, representing Jones, said his client was made redundant from Opus Energy before his offending came to light and has since found a job with We Buy Any Car.

His barrister added how the defendant was a father-of-two who supported them and had suffered from mental health and financial difficulties.

Judge Catherine Richards told Jones: "You had gained trust and respect in your employment to do the role you did and having access to customer details as you did.

“The only victim you could see was your employer or their insurance company but the impact of your offending is clear when an innocent member of the public was faced with bailiffs at their door."

Jones was jailed for 14 months, suspended for 18 months.

He was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work, complete a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement and he must pay £500 costs.