Great British Menu chef Stephen Terry's restaurant suffered £150000 fraud, court told

Alex South

Alex South


A court has heard how Chef Stephen Terry, Chef Owner of Hardwick, was swindled out of £150,000 by a married couple working at his restaurant.

Stephen, who featured on BBC’s Great British Menu and was Gordon Ramsay's best man, employed office administrator Nicola Nightingale at his restaurant in Monmouthshire before she stole thousands of pounds from the business.

The court heard she convinced the chef to allow her husband Simon Nightingale to work shifts when the Hardwick was busy, before she then paid her husband a total of £46,741.57 in fraudulent payments after having control of the company finances.

This later led to Stephen discovering that two loans had been taken out in his name for £40,000 each that he had never approved.

He also found money was owed on business rates, PAYE and VAT and there was a £10,000 shortfall in the pension pot.

Stephen, who was taught by Marco Pierre White, said Mr Nightingale helped at the pass

He said: "He would come in to help with service for maximum four hours tops. We thought Simon was coming in to help us out and doing us a favour."

Cardiff Crown Court heard Terry became suspicious of the finances shortly before the pandemic lockdown was announced in March 2020.

He told the courts he experienced a "that's odd moment" when he spotted that Mrs Nightingale had the company's bank account on an app on her phone.

Stephen said: "I thought that's strange. I didn't even have that at the time. I was surprised she would check out my business account on her own personal account."

The court heard Stephen checked CCTV at the restaurant where he saw "aloof" Mrs Nightingale leaving with a large bag she hadn't arrived with.

He checked through the business bank statements to discover bogus invoices to companies called Sage and Flying Fish.

The jury heard he never questioned the couple's "lavish lifestyle" because he believed they had income outside of the restaurant shifts.

He said: "I think it took Nicola about four weeks to start taking money from us from when she started. She didn't hang about."

Nicola Nightingale pleaded guilty to fraud, whilst her husband of Gilwern near Abergavenny, is facing trial for acquiring criminal property.

Prosecutor Thomas Stanway said: "Mrs Nightingale fraudulently took money from the restaurant and she paid it into a number of bank accounts of hers and her husband."

The court heard Nicola Nightingale resigned from the restaurant into March 2020 just after the first lockdown was announced. Her husband was interviewed by police where he gave a prepared statement saying he worked at the restaurant.

The prosecutor said: "He gave a prepared statement. He effectively placed the blame on his wife. He said she had access to his account. He stated [that] he worked at the Hardwick restaurant and his wages didn't go through the books."

The court heard Mr Nightingale was paid the money between May 2018 and February 2020.

The trial, expected to last three days, continues at Cardiff Crown Court.

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 8th February 2023

Great British Menu chef Stephen Terry's restaurant suffered £150000 fraud, court told