LIVERPOOL’S 385-capacity Epstein Theatre narrowly avoided closure last year after the theft of over £270,000 by former employee Kelvin Lloyd.
The former assistant manager at the theatre received a prison sentence of 28 months after pleading guilty as charged at Liverpool Crown Court on 9 April.
Lloyd had been embezzling money into his own bank account, with the losses only discovered when directors David and Rebecca Pichilingi placed the business into administration with FRP Advisory in December, after “creditor pressure”.
The court heard that Lloyd helped himself to about £92,500 of the theatre’s cash takings, while also transferring over £180,500 from payments destined for creditors.
He initially lied to the administrator, blaming the discrepancies on spreadsheet errors, but eventually paid back over £16,000 of the stolen money.
He spent more than £10,000 on online takeaways with companies such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo, a holiday in the US and high value consumer items such as Dyson vacuum cleaners, laptops, consoles and iPhones, described in court as “frivolous”.
One secured creditor of The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool City Council (LCC), is owed £188,200, while £108,834.78 of unsecured creditors include Darkside Floyd Show, owed £3,724.74, PRS for Music (£13,189.13), theatre and pantomime company LHK Entertainment (£14,302) and Adlib Audio (£1,242).
The administrator’s progress report of January 2019 shows that the business made an operating profit of £50,263.55, but FRP Advisory’s fees for 1,020 hours of work on the project was £278,269.
The administrator declined to comment about the future of the theatre, although the report indicates it is attempting to sell the business, with permission from LCC to continue this process until December 2019.