A greedy worker who looted more than £21,000 from her employer and splashed it on takeaways and sweets has been jailed.
Principal administrator Katie Wallace started working at Harry Burnicle Ltd, a construction company in Sunderland, in April last year and within weeks began diverting money from the company to her own account staff. Newcastle Crown Court heard between June 1 and September 2 that she transferred £21,286 to her bank, in 31 fraudulent transactions.
Prosecutor Matthew Hopkins told the court when discrepancies were spotted that Wallace claimed there were innocent mistakes and issued a series of apologies in an effort to cover his tracks. The court heard the cost of his breach to the family business was “much more than money”.
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A spokesperson who read an impact statement on behalf of the company, which was established in 1981, said Wallace’s dishonesty was “planned and very complex” and added: “She was taking money with full knowledge of the stress people were under.”
The court heard a worker was fired, a senior executive was hospitalized due to stress and the company’s charitable donations had to be halted because of what happened. The spokesperson added: “I cannot stress enough the extent of the fraudulent and deceptive actions on our business and our families.”
Wallace, 31, from Aintree Road, Sunderland, who has never had any problems before, admitted the theft. Judge Sarah Mallett said Wallace fell for “an extravagant life in daily expenses” and sentenced her to eight months behind bars.
The judge said the impact on the business went ‘far beyond a financial impact’ and added: ‘This was a breach of a high degree of trust and responsibility. offense is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified.”
Jennifer Coxon, defending, said Wallace did not realize how much money she had put into her own account and there was no suggestion that she bought any luxury goods. Miss Coxon produced Wallace’s bank statements in court and said: “Just Eat, takeaway, that’s basically what she wasted her money on.
“There was a trip in a caravan to Haggerston Castle, there were no major purchases like a new car.” Miss Coxon said Wallace was ‘devastated’ by the effect her breach was having on the business and it would have on her own family. She added: “His good character is gone now, in the most dishonest way.”