Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
Highworth accountant spared jail after paying herself £28k
6:30pm Monday 18th February 2013 in News
AN ACCOUNTANT who stole tens of thousands of pounds from two companies where she worked has been spared a jail.
Michelle Holland abused her position at the firms to plunder the cash during a five-month period.
After imposing a 10 month suspended sentence a judge said it was not meritorious to order her to pay compensation, pointing out the victims could sue her.
Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court that a supervisor at Venues Event Management noticed payments being made to an unusual name.
She said it was found that 38-year-old Holland had been making payments from the company’s account to her own.
During the few weeks she worked for the firm, based at Lotmead Business Park, she transferred more than £19,000 to her own account on four occasions, using the BACS system.
The matter was reported to the police and when she was arrested she told officers ‘I have been stupid: I did it’.
Police asked if she had done it before and she revealed she had carried out a similar scam at her past employers, Manor Furnishings.
She started there in December 2011 as an accounts manager but was let go in March last year after bosses questioned the qualifications and capabilities set out in her CV.
After the police contacted them they found she had siphoned cash into her account on eight occasions, taking nearly £9,000, again using the BACS system.
Mrs Hingston said in total she had taken more than £28,000 from the two firms between December 2011 and May last year.
“She was unable to explain where it had gone. It had been used to pay off debts and buy gifts for her children, friends and family. It appears there was little if any of it left.”
Holland, of Windrush, Highworth, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of fraud.
Rob Ross, defending, said his client had experienced a traumatic upbringing which left her psychologically scarred.
Despite her past he said she had led a blameless life until something happened in 2010 which was a ‘trigger that brought back everything’.
He said: “Having developed a coping strategy throughout life from her teenage years to mid 20s, things in 2010 fell apart.”
A psychiatric report carried out on her told how her childhood experiences had an effect on her deteriorating mental health which led to the offending.
“It is almost being on a train which is eventually going to hit the buffers, and it did.
“She did something and it is absolutely clear she regrets it immensely,” he said.
Passing sentence, Recorder James Watson QC said: “It seems to me that the interests of justice do not demand that you are made subject to an immediate custodial sentence.
“This is bearing in mind the immediate medical issues you are now facing up to with those supporting you.”
He imposed a 10-month jail term suspended for a year and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and be under the supervision of probation for six months.
The judge added: “I don’t think it is meritorious to pass a compensation order as employers retain their civil rights”.
However, she will still be subject to an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act.