03/18/2012 : FEMALE ONLINE GAMBLER STOLE GBP 230,000 FROM EMPLOYER
Leeds accountant convicted on eight counts of fraud
For six years online gambler Kay Fearnley (56) got away with stealing a total of over GBP 230,000 from her employers, a marketing and public relations firm in Headingly, Yorkshire. But then the recession made her employers declare her job as an accounts clerk redundant, and her continuous pilfering of company finances was discovered.
This week it all ended in tears when Fearnley was sent to jail for 3 years and nine months on eight counts of fraud by false invoicing. Judge Geoffrey Marson QC told her: “It may not have been the most sophisticated method of stealing but it was one that went on over a period of six years.”
The accused pleaded guilty.
Judge Manson and the Leeds Crown Court heard evidence that Fearnley suffered from depression and spent much of the money she stole over six years to fund an online gambling addiction. The court commented that the pattern of fraud and deception would have continued had it not been for the fact that Fearnley and others happened to be declared redundant.
“Over that period [2004 to 2011] you stole from your employers no less than GBP 236,000," the judge said. "Most of it has gone on gambling, some of it on holidays abroad… whatever happened to it, it was a gross breach of trust.”
The judge said it might have been that some of the customary accounts checks and balances were not in place “but you exploited that to the full extent.”
Prosecutor Louise Pryke described the accused's actions as ‘a planned and thorough and systematic fraud.’
“She identified a weakness in the accounts department and exploited it,” Pryke said, revealing that the frauds had been on-going for years, with the last crooked transaction implemented on the day Fearnley left the company.
Pryke said the money appeared to have spent on credit cards, shopping, online gambling and holidays. Only GBP 4,400 was found in her bank accounts which had been restrained.