FORMER Heart 104.9fm financial director Mario Roos, convicted of stealing from and defrauding his employers of R12,5-million, has lost his Cape High Court appeal against his effective 12-year prison sentence, writes Fatima Schroeder in the Cape Argus.

Last June, the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Bellville convicted Roos of 116 counts of fraud and two counts of theft, after he pleaded guilty to the charges.

He stole money from the Foschini Group, where he was initially employed, and then defrauded Heart and its sister radio station in KwaZulu-Natal via electronic transfers.

In a statement before the court, Roos said he had later fled to London, where he continued to gamble with the money he had stolen.

But he eventually lost it all and ended up destitute, living on the streets and sleeping at the airport.

He decided to return to South Africa and co-operate with the police.

At the end of his trial last June, Roos was found guilty of misappropriating about R7.9m from Heart between January 2007 and February last year.

He was also found guilty of making three electronic transfers involving R4.5m, in his favour, from Heart's sister station, Gagasi 99.5fm.

The court sentenced Roos to an effective 12 years behind bars.

But he appealed to the high court, arguing that the sentence was "excessive and startlingly inappropriate".

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