HE defrauded one of York’s biggest companies of more than £1million – now he could go to prison.

John Michael Taylor was entrusted by his employers, Norwich Union, to look after money belonging to the insurance giant’s customers.

Instead, he used his position to siphon cash from its customer accounts into two accounts used by jewellers.

Now the former operations manager faces a jail sentence after pleading guilty to two charges at Leeds Crown Court.

Taylor, 34, of Nunthorpe Crescent in South Bank, York, pleaded guilty by video link from Hull Prison yesterday to conspiring to steal almost £1.47 million from Norwich Union. He also pleaded guilty to trying to hide his tracks by laundering the cash.

Judge Geoffrey Marson adjourned the case for probation officers to prepare a pre-sentence report and remanded Taylor in custody. Taylor, who spent Christmas in prison after his arrest last autumn, did not apply for bail.

He stole the money by transferring cash from dormant accounts at the insurance firm in the names of nine men and two women to two accounts used by jewellers.

The jewellers, who were not part of the conspiracy, were then asked to turn the financial credits into assets, such as Krugerrands, and items like Rolex watches.

Andrew West, a specialist fraud prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service, who has been advising the police investigating the case, said the jewellers simply thought they were receiving insurance money.

He said that, although unusual, it was not unknown for people who had lost watches and the like to receive a replacement watch from an insurance company as opposed to cash.

Mr West said that Taylor’s guilty pleas were a good result.

He said: “I’m pleased that the hard work of North Yorkshire Police has borne fruit.”

When Taylor first appeared before a court, he faced 19 related charges including abusing a position of trust and attempting to commit fraud.

These are now expected to be left to lie on file which means they will appear on his police record but not as convictions. The Crown Prosecution Service has indicated that it will not pursue them, following the guilty pleas to the conspiracy to steal and money laundering charges.