A corrupt former Ikea executive who took bribes in exchange for awarding lucrative contracts has had his sentence more than halved by top judges.
Paul Andrew Hoult, 42, of Copperbeech Close, Harborne, Birmingham, was jailed for 13 months at Birmingham Crown Court last October after admitting nine counts of corruption.
Also jailed for their roles in the scam against the Scandinavian furniture chain were Adam Hauxwell-Smith, from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, who received three years, and John Brown, from Halifax, Yorkshire, who was put behind bars for two years.
Hauxwell-Smith, who supplied an array of goods - including pot-pourri, candles and Christmas crackers - was the "prime mover" in the conspiracy, said Lord Justice Laws, sitting in London’s Appeal Court with Judge David Radford yesterday.
Brown and Hoult both worked for Ikea while the scam was being orchestrated between 1999 and 2000, the court heard.
Hoult had worked "blamelessly" with the company for ten years before he succumbed to greed. He was "range leader" responsible for deciding which goods should be included in Ikea’s cooking and kitchenware section when he was persuaded to overlook internal rules barring the store from accepting more than 40 per cent of a single supplier’s turnover.
Brown received around £1 million in bribes for effectively turning a blind eye, while Hoult secured a £42,750 payment and a mortgage facility worth £243,000.
Hoult accepted that he used his influence at Ikea to "recommend goods supplied by companies owned by Hauxwell-Smith", the court heard.
The scheme came to light after the store received a massive consignment of Christmas crackers for the millennium which greatly exceeded the orders originally placed.
Lord Justice Laws allowed Hoult’s appeal after noting that he has since made substantial "reparations" to Ikea, also carving out a new career.
Hoult also played the least role in the plot and made the smallest profit, the court heard, while there had been excessive delay in bringing the prosecution to court.
The case’s "unusual circumstances" justified a significant cut in Hoult sentence, the judge concluded, substituting a six-month term.