Robert Austin, 55, of Addlestone, Surrey, was convicted after a four week trial at Brighton Crown Court, of seven counts of theft and false accounting. He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

Austin was a director of a company within the Mackintosh and Partners group, a timber firm based in Small Dole, near Brighton and in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, of which his father was the owner.

"Austin stole £2.6m from the group of companies between 2002 and 2008, falsifying records required for accounting purposes in order to do so," said detective constable Dan Clark of the Sussex Police major fraud unit.

The company went into administration in 2008 and the loss was reported to the police three years later following an internal investigation into what had happened.

The firm went into liquidation as a direct result of the losses. It was an otherwise profitable company which had successfully traded for some 70 years.

As the company went into liquidation, employees and directors lost their jobs, Additionally, several had to give evidence at the trial.
"Austin appears to have simply worked himself into a position whereby he was in financial control," Det Con Clark.

"His actions, driven by greed, had a wide effect on the lives of many people. I only hope that those affected by him can now find some closure."

The failure of Mackintosh and Partners also led to a number of timber industry suppliers to the firm suffering losses.
The company had been one of southern England’s leading manufacturers of planed and moulded timber.