A WICKES fraudster has been jailed after he admitted he could not pay back £35,000 in ill-gotten gains.

Eamonn Burns was jailed for 18 months in 2016 after he admitted stealing £70,000 of cash and stock while manager of the Swindon DIY store.

He funnelled the proceeds into buying a holiday home in Cyprus. A judge ordered him to repay the outstanding £35,540 under the Proceeds of Crime Act or face a two year jail term.

Now, he has been jailed for 368 days after acknowledging at Weston-super-Mare Magistrates’ Court that he would not be able to pay back the eye-watering sum.

Wiltshire Police financial investigator Maria Delapp said she was pleased with the result.

The civilian investigator tracked the flow of Burns’ stolen cash, showing he had used money from Wickes to pay for the Cyprus hideaway.

She told the Adver: “This jail sentence shows crime doesn’t pay and the default sentence will be implemented if the confiscation amount hasn’t been paid.”

The authorities have spent years attempting to claw back the proceeds of Burns’ crimes.

Ordered by the courts to sell his Cyprus flat, Burns, 34, formerly of Webbs Wood, Peatmoor, said he could not employ an estate agent on the sunshine island because he couldn't tell them where to go as he did not have its address.

He claimed he did not have the deeds and, after getting out on home detention curfew after less than six months inside, he was initially banned from going abroad.

Giving evidence, he said: "I believe the keys were under a mat at the property, but I did not know where the property was.

"When I went to view the property I was taken there in the estate agent's car. They didn't have proper street names in Cyprus."

Judge Jason Taylor QC asked: "You spent £70,000 at the exchange rate then for a house and you essentially didn't know where it was?" Burns replied: "Yes.”

He then said his in-laws and the owners of their local were prepared to pay just £35,000 for the flat, even though he claimed to not know its address.

Burns was jailed in October 2016 after he was caught operating a false refund scam at Wickes.

Swindon Crown Court heard he was taking money on a daily basis at one point. His colleagues missed out on annual bonuses and were subject to an overtime ban.

He was made manager at the flagship store, which has a £10m turnover, in June 2013, but in December 2015 an investigation found he was on the take.

He had falsified invoices in a bid to cover his tracks and also used the details of innocent customers on the paperwork.