Finance Assistant Jailed For Company Theft

26-year-old used part of GBP 508,000 theft to gamble online

A GBP 15,000-a-year finance assistant was sent to prison for three years by a Manchester judge this week after pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position in which she stole GBP 508,000 from her employer, a local motor claims company that has been so badly hit by the thefts that it has had to lay off members of staff.

Charlotte Darwen (26), who joined the company in 2007 as a finance assistant, made 352 payments to herself from company funds in order to live a rich lifestyle and gamble online.

The Minshull Street Crown Court heard that Darwen had won GBP 330,000 from her betting activities but she had secretly paid GBP 508,120 from company funds into her personal account since 2011, by creating false invoices and credit notes.

She had also blown nearly GBP 420,000 on gambling sprees alone, prosecutors said.

She additionally spent part of her ill-gotten gains on celebrity events, concerts, overseas holidays, cosmetic surgery, payments on a car and a GBP 48,000 deposit on a house, the court heard.

She posted Facebook pictures of herself enjoying the good life.

Darwen's total income from August 2010 to 2013 had been GBP 823,618, the court heard.

Prosecutor Kim Irvine said that the thefts came to light last year during a company audit; Darwen had immediately admitted to the frauds and apologised, tendering her resignation

In a victim impact statement Eleanor Lumsden, finance director at the company, said, "Darwen was someone I trusted and she abused her position. The total loss of money was a testament to how devious she has been."

The company, which once employed 300 staff, now only employs 170, she said.

Passing sentence Judge Maurice Greene told Darwen: "You got involved in a spiral of gambling, stealing money then using it and getting into more debt. Both you and this company have suffered as a result.

"What you did has had an almost devastating effect on this company, members of the company, staff – people who trusted you."

A police investigator told local reporters: "While it is true she spent a considerable amount on gambling websites, her addiction was by no means restricted to games of chance. She was also clearly addicted to what you might call retail therapy."

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