A FRAUDSTER who used fake timesheets to trick his employer out of more than £76,000 to help feed his cocaine and drinking habits has been jailed for a year.

Piling contractor Antonio Rodrigues tricked his employer out of £76,469 by forging his boss’ signature on payroll documents.

The 32-year-old had been employed on a building project in London’s Mayfair, but between July 2017 and April 2018 he had been submitting timesheets for work he had not completed.

Rodrigues even continued submitting false claims three months after the Curzon Street project had been completed.

He was voluntarily interviewed by police after eventually being foiled by finance staff and admitted one charge of fraud by false representation.

At Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday, John Livingstone, prosecuting, said: “He said he developed a cocaine and alcohol habit and he was having some troubles at home and things spiralled out of control.

“He said he knew the man who has responsibility for his time sheets well.

“He took advantage of a rather lax accounting system by which he would submit his hours and it would be sent off.

“What he was doing in the course of this period was forging a signature and putting in for hours he had not done.”

After being found out, Rodrigues, of Primrose Walk, Colchester, offered to pay the firm back at a rate of £500 a month.

Emma Nash, mitigating, said father-of-three Rodrigues was a man of no previous convictions and had shown genuine remorse.

She added: “He is of good character and very much a hard worker.

“He was working long hours in the City and there was a culture of taking cocaine and drinking which led to him developing an addiction.

“He resolved that addiction but replaced it with a gambling addiction. He has high levels of debt. He has now addressed all of these addictions and they are no longer issues.”

Ms Nash added Rodrigues suffers from depression which he was now taking medication for.

He said: “He worries how his family will managed without him, particularly financially.

Recorder William Clegg sentenced Rodrigues to 12 months in jail.

He said: “There is in your case substantial mitigation. I have come to the conclusion I cannot suspend the sentence, however.”