A CROOKED employee who put a small company at risk of ruin after swindling its owners out of thousands of pounds will have to pay back all the money.

A court has ordered Brian Blake to hand over all of the £7,650 he stole within 12 weeks or face four months in prison in default.

The 65-year-old from Newport conned Cardiff firm Rycon Steels Ltd out of the cash after working as a trusted manager for them for 15 years.

Blake, who was earning £75,000-a-year, had even been loaned money by the company towards buying a house and to help pay for his daughter’s wedding.


The defendant pocketed the money from the steel stockholder business over a five-month period to help him feed his gambling addiction.

Last November, at Cardiff Crown Court, he was jailed for six months, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Blake, of Amelia Close, Newport pleaded guilty to one count of theft.

Outside court, Rycon Steels Ltd director Helena Djordjevitch told of how her life has been “hell” since the scam in 2018.

She said: “My husband Andrej, who is partner/owner of Rycon Steels, made him the general manager after taking him on in 2004.

“He trusted him implicitly and gave him all operational control of the business and he completely betrayed us.

“Our lives have been hell. I have had sleepless nights worrying about how the business will survive. The effect on my life has been devastating.

“I am 68 years old and I have had to give up my ambition to run a vegan kitchen in my retirement years.”

She added: “Andrej and his partner both bought the business in 1995 when the owner who they worked for retired.

“They took on a business loan and worked long, long hours for a better future for their families and later for their retirement. Brian has destroyed part of what they built.

“This man’s greed and lack of principle has damaged many people’s lives and Andrej and I at an advanced age suffer daily under the physical and mental strain of trying to rebuild the business.”

The order forcing Blake to repay the money to his victims was made at a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at Cardiff Crown Court.