A JUDGE has told a Warwick woman who used her job to divert other employees’ expenses payments into her own account that she was ‘pretty sure’ she should be jailed.
But despite that, dishonest Melanie Dart narrowly escaped an immediate prison term after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to a charge of fraud.
The 34-year-old was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 18 months and ordered to take part in a rehabilitation activity for 40 days.
Prosecutor Jonathan Veasey-Pugh said that initially Dart had denied the charge, claiming her ex-boyfriend was responsible, but changed her plea just before her trial in December.
There followed a series of adjournments for her to come good on her assertion that she would be able to save money at a regular rate to pay back what she had taken.
But at the resumed hearing, her barrister Andrew Tucker told the judge only £700 had been transferred to the account of a family friend.
Mr Veasey-Pugh said that, working through an agency, in June 2018 Dart was deployed as the expenses manager for Telent Technology Service in Warwick.
Mr Veasey-Pugh said: “What she did was to divert expenses payments from their intended recipients to either, on two occasions, bank accounts associated with her, or on three occasions accounts associated with others.
“She had a degree of trust, and the sophistication of the fraud was evident in the sense that she had to change employees’ passwords to change the bank details for payments.
“This was an intentional plan to defraud the company which was paying her salary.”
He said Dart obtained a total of £6,235 which should have gone to other employees to cover legitimate expenses, and those people have since been reimbursed by the company.”
Telent, described as a multi-million-pound company, had intended to claim on their insurance, but found it was ‘not proportionate’ to do so and had stood the loss itself.
The three other people who had payments made into their accounts were questioned by the police, but went on to become prosecution witnesses, pointed out Mr Veasey-Pugh.
The fraud took place over about a week in August 2018, and with Dart being of previous good character, her barrister Andrew Tucker said: “She is not an essentially dishonest person.”
Mr Tucker said Dart’s ‘primary responsibility in life’ is towards her children, and she was currently undertaking a course which she hoped would enable her to make an application for them to be returned to her care.
He added that since the offence Dart got a job as a finance manager with the Department of Health and Social Care, but left because of anxiety she suffered after being attacked in a Warwick park and now worked as a night receptionist at a hotel.
Sentencing Dart, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told her: “I am not going to send you to prison today. I am pretty sure I should, I don’t think you have done anything I asked you to, but given your family situation I am not going to interrupt that.
“I don’t believe for a minute you have been saving money, and I don’t think the evidence you have given me shows that.
“I am passing a suspended sentence not for your benefit, but for the benefit of your children.”