A Toys 'R' Us accountant who defrauded the firm of £3.6m which he spent on a "fantasy" life of prostitutes and expensive cars has been jailed for seven years.
Paul Hopes, 58, had worked for the toy retailer for 23 years when he developed an infatuation with a massage parlour worker.
Hopes, who had a £56,000 salary, set up a bank account in her name to siphon off money, knowing that the position of trust he held in the company meant his crimes were unlikely to be detected.
Reading Crown Court heard that Hopes - described as being a "Walter Mitty character" - led a double life, living a normal existence with his wife and children while lavishing money and gifts on five prostitutes. Simon Heptonstall, prosecuting, said: "This was not a crime of passion but a crime of lust, it would appear."
Judge Stephen John questioned how such a "simple fraud" could have taken place at a large firm such as Toys 'R' Us. Sentencing Hopes, he said: "I cannot judge if, as you say, you felt sorry for these women, but you chose to provide them with an absurdly luxurious lifestyle in order to preserve your sexual relationship with them."
Hopes, of Woodley, Reading, Berkshire admitted 14 counts of theft and four of transferring criminal property between June 2006 and November 2008 at an earlier hearing.
Hopes met Dawn Dunbar on her first day of work at a Reading massage parlour, the court was told, and saw her there for a month before persuading her to leave her job. He gave her gifts of money, claiming he had received a £200,000 bonus and cashed in £900,000 in shares, neither of which was true. Mr Heptonstall said Hopes, an accounts payable manager, was subject to little auditing, which made it easier for him to set up transactions with bogus supply firm Dunbar Associates. The money instead went to his own bank account, with Hopes making a total of 23 bank transfers.
Hopes wrote cheques of up to £47,500 for the other women. The court heard he spent up to £800 on his cocaine habit each time he met one of them for sex.
Miss Dunbar received the most money, and is still driving round in the £132,000 Bentley she was given by Hopes, who told her: "Every girl loves a Bentley." She received £1.5 million, part of which she used to buy a £310,000 house. She was also given gifts of a Land Cruiser worth £31,000 and a Lexus worth £42,000.
Another prostitute bought land in Nigeria with her money, while the mother of another was given cash to support a business she had set up.