A MEDICAL secretary lived a lifestyle ‘completely beyond the means’ of her and her policeman husband by stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds from the consultant she worked for.
Crooked Diane Wilson was driving round in a Mercedes, spending thousands on holidays and paying for private health care as she diverted payments to the consultant into her own account.
And when she lost that job and went to work for another consultant, she immediately began stealing from him as well.
The 54-year-old pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to obtaining money transfers by deception and five offences of fraud, committed over a nine-year period, to obtain more than £385,000.
Despite her own severe health problems, wheelchair-bound Wilson, of Laurel Drive, Stockton, near Southam, was jailed for a total of three years and four months.
Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith explained Wilson carried out the frauds against two consultant surgeons who had employed her in her capacity as a medical secretary.
“The trust placed in her was large, and she abused it for personal gain. It went to fund a lifestyle which included two particular cars and holidays.”
And Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed: “Coming into the family must have been well over double the salary for nine or ten years.”
Mr Grieves-Smith said the first five offences covered a period between 2005 and 2012 while Wilson was working for consultant surgeon Peter Binfield, who carried out NHS work and also had private patients.
Wilson worked from home as his medical secretary, and he even purchased furniture for her, as well as paying her a salary of at least £49,000.
Mr Binfield was extremely busy, and trusted Wilson with the banking and the payment of invoices, signing cheques without questioning them and even signing blank cheques for her to use.
“She betrayed that trust by taking cruel advantage.”
Mr Grieves-Smith said when Wilson was on holiday her role was carried out by another medical secretary.
But as well as arranging genuine payments for work the secretary had undertaken, Wilson put through 41 false invoices for a total of £113,000 which was paid into her own account.
The surgeon’s accountants noticed some anomalies in the record of payments he received for private work, but such was the trust in Wilson they were not investigated further.
Eventually he stopped employing her because of issues over her efficiency, but in July 2011 she had written a letter to Bupa, forging Mr Binfield’s signature on it, informing them of a new account into which payments were to be made.
That was in fact Wilson’s own account, and as a result she continued receiving payments meant for him until September 2012, a total of over £111,000.
Wilson had sent a similar forged letter to Axa PPP, who ended up paying a total of £103,000 into her account.
Mr Grieves-Smith pointed out Wilson had moved on to work for another consultant, Mohammed Shahid, and repeated her frauds in a similar way, changing the account details and getting 20 payments for a total of £27,000 paid into it.
When she was spoken to about that, she claimed she would speak to the person into whose account the money had been paid – but in fact it was her own account.
As to where the money went, Mr Grieves-Smith said that over the nine-year period Wilson had spent over £62,000 on leasing prestige cars including a BMW and a Mercedes, £21,000 on private health care and a minimum of £20,000 on holidays.
Judge Lockhart commented: “She was living a lifestyle which would otherwise have been completely beyond their means as a secretary and a police officer.”
When she was arrested and questioned, Wilson made no comment, and an indication of her lack of co-operation was the fact she would not give permission for her bank accounts to be looked at, so court orders had to be obtained.
Jane Brady, defending, said Wilson had ‘complex physical and mental health problems,’ including fibromyalgia, renal cancer, now in remission, osteoporosis, atiphospholipid syndrome, a heart disorder, and was being treated by five consultants.
As well as her physical problems, which have left her confined to a wheelchair, she has suffered from severe depression following the traumatic deaths of two of her children, and had made suicide attempts.
Arguing that Wilson’s was ‘an exceptional case,’ she said that because of her need for medication ‘at the required time and in the exact dose,’ prison would pose a significant health risk.
But jailing Wilson, Judge Lockhart told her: “This was a fraud carried out over a very substantial period of time, and there was a degree of sophistication. It was a very substantial breach of trust.
“I must take into account the reports I have read dealing with your complex physical and mental problems.
“I cannot countenance anything other than a significant sentence of custody, but I am going to make a significant reduction for your mitigation and health difficulties.”