The Press, York
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
A former member of the special forces who defrauded the US government
while working at a North Yorkshire spy base has been given a suspended
Patrick Butler, 39, used the internet site eBay to sell items he
bought when employed by the Ministry of Defence at Menwith Hill, York
Crown Court heard.
He was given a US Government purchase card to buy equipment for the
activities he ran for children of the American servicemen and women
living at the top secret defence base near Harrogate.
But Butler, whose new job will involve protecting ships from pirates
in Somalia, also used the card to buy £10,000 of luxuries and other
items for himself, his family and friends. Some of the items
he auctioned over the internet.
Judge Guy Kearl QC said: “You decided upon a course of dishonest
conduct against the US government by spending their money. This was a
conscious decision and it was not a one-off.”
Butler, a married father of three, of Newhall Crescent, Leeds, pleaded
guilty to 17 fraud charges and was given a 12-month prison sentence,
suspended for two years on condition he did 150 hours’
unpaid work and a rehabilitation course.
The judge said the only reason he was not sent straight to jail was
because he had served his country “extensively at the highest possible
Butler is a former Royal Marine and member of the Special Boat Service, the marine equivalent of the SAS.
His barrister, Damien Nolan, said Butler was unemployed, but now had a
job lined up to do security duties in north-east Africa, particularly
Somalia, protecting ships from pirates.
At the time of his crimes, he had had debts of £30,000 and been in
severe financial difficulties. He had not taken the Menwith Hill job so
he could defraud the US government.
However, once on the base, he had fallen into temptation because the American purchasing checks were lax.
The youth club he ran was of good quality and his crimes were out of character.