Ofcom’s former head of IT has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after stealing more than half a million pounds from the communications regulator.

Last month, Jurgen Whitehouse, 37, from Kent, pleaded guilty to defrauding his employer Ofcom of £522,123, between July 2008 and April 2009.

Although he has since repaid £473,590 of the stolen money, Southwark Crown Court sentenced him to 30 months in prison on Tuesday 7 June.

Detective Constable Elliott Toms said: "This was a premeditated and calculated fraud on a public body which was conducted over a prolonged period.

"He exploited his expert knowledge of systems in place at Ofcom in order to steal in excess of half a million pounds.

"Today's sentence will hopefully serve as a deterrent to others who are similarly tempted to abuse their positions of responsibility."

Whitehouse started as a systems manager at Ofcom in March 2004. He was sacked in October 2009 for inappropriate use of equipment. At the time, he was responsible for a £4 million budget, and earned a salary of £62,735.

His fraudulent activity was discovered when Ofcom’s IT department noticed that unauthorised payments were being made into the bank account of a company Whitehouse controlled.

According to the tabloid Daily Mail newspaper, Whitehouse claimed that it had been legitimate at first, saying that he had been using his company to buy software licences and related equipment for Ofcom, to save the regulator money.

He then started producing false invoices when the money continued coming in, despite a lack of equipment being delivered.

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Whitehouse’s defence lawyer, Avtar Bhatoa, said that the remainder of the stolen money had been used to pay VAT charges on equipment that had been bought for Ofcom.

A Crown Court confiscation hearing in October will determine whether or not Whitehouse will have to repay the remaining £48,533.

An Ofcom spokesperson said: “The majority of the funds have already been returned to Ofcom and we are confident that we will recover the full amount.

“Our financial controls are robust, appropriate and proportionate. The fraud was as a consequence of the abuse of position by a particular employee rather than as a consequence of a weakness in Ofcom’s processes.”