18th Dec, 2017

Fraudster mum escapes jail after stealing more than £160,000

Leamington Editorial 2nd Nov, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A WOMAN who stole more than £160,000 from her Warwick employers was finally caught after trying to access their accounts system from her laptop – while she was on maternity leave.

But although Helen Wright who stole more than £160,000 from her Warwick employers was finally caught after trying to access their accounts system from her laptop – while she was on maternity leave.

But although Helen Wright did not consider the possible consequences for her child at the time, a judge was asked to do so when sentencing her.

And it was the effect it would have on her baby that saved her from prison after she had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to fraud in abuse of a position of trust.

Instead the 41 year-old of Welland Close, Long Lawford, Rugby, was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid work and to take part in a probation programme for women.

Prosecutor Andrew Tucker said Wright worked for an international technology company, Eaton Industries UK Ltd, at its premises on the Heathcote Industrial Estate.

Her job as a plant controller had a high degree of responsibility, and after starting on £40,000 a year in 2009, her salary had risen to £54,000 by 2013.

She had to deal with purchases and sales for the company, as well as the expenses of other members of staff, as a result of which she had access to the company’s bank accounts.

But on 28 occasions between April 2011 and September last year Wright paid various amounts totalling £161,627 from Eaton Industries into her own account.

The company had become aware of some oddities in what was going on and had launched its own investigation ‘at a relatively early stage’ in 2011.

But although that involved 23 employees spending a total of 8,730 hours at an estimated cost of more than £250,000 it did not turn anything up until September last year.

At that time Wright was on maternity leave and attempted to pay herself £4,800 by accessing the company’s accounts system from her laptop, and the police were contacted.

When she was arrested Wright admitted what she had been doing, although she claimed she had only taken £80,000 dishonestly and that other payments had been legitimate expenses claims.

Mr Tucker pointed out that was something Eaton Industries do not accept, and they have started civil proceedings against her for the full amount.

Recorder Abigail Nixon asked whether there had been any voluntary repayment, and was told there had not.

Paul O’Keefe, defending, said the civil proceedings were still ongoing, and Wright had sold her home and the £18,000 equity has been set aside pending the outcome of that.

Recorder Nixon observed Wright began taking money because of her and her husband’s spiralling debts of some £60,000 after he started his own business – but questioned what had happened to the rest?”

Mr O’Keefe said: “That she can’t explain. She accepted her shopping habits changed, and she went to more expensive stores and bought better food and more expensive clothes.”

He added for 14 years she had been trying to have a child, and after suffering two miscarriages, she gave birth last year, and if she was jailed her husband would have to give up his work to care for the baby, he added.

Sentencing Wright, Recorder Nixon told her: “I am quite satisfied if you had not been found out, you would have carried on. Indeed, while you were on maternity leave you attempted to make another transfer.

“Had it not been for the situation where your child is so very young and dependent on you, and had I not been told that your husband would have to give up work and put your family back in the situation they were in before, I would have sent you to prison without any hesitation whatsoever.”t did not consider the possible consequences for her child at the time, a judge was asked to do so when sentencing her.

And it was the effect it would have on her baby that saved her from prison after she had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to fraud in abuse of a position of trust.

Instead the 41 year-old of Welland Close, Long Lawford, Rugby, was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid work and to take part in a probation programme for women.

Prosecutor Andrew Tucker said Wright worked for an international technology company, Eaton Industries UK Ltd, at its premises on the Heathcote Industrial Estate.

Her job as a plant controller had a high degree of responsibility, and after starting on £40,000 a year in 2009, her salary had risen to £54,000 by 2013.

She had to deal with purchases and sales for the company, as well as the expenses of other members of staff, as a result of which she had access to the company’s bank accounts.

But on 28 occasions between April 2011 and September last year Wright paid various amounts totalling £161,627 from Eaton Industries into her own account.

The company had become aware of some oddities in what was going on and had launched its own investigation ‘at a relatively early stage’ in 2011.

But although that involved 23 employees spending a total of 8,730 hours at an estimated cost of more than £250,000 it did not turn anything up until September last year.

At that time Wright was on maternity leave and attempted to pay herself £4,800 by accessing the company’s accounts system from her laptop, and the police were contacted.

When she was arrested Wright admitted what she had been doing, although she claimed she had only taken £80,000 dishonestly and that other payments had been legitimate expenses claims.

Mr Tucker pointed out that was something Eaton Industries do not accept, and they have started civil proceedings against her for the full amount.

Recorder Abigail Nixon asked whether there had been any voluntary repayment, and was told there had not.

Paul O’Keefe, defending, said the civil proceedings were still ongoing, and Wright had sold her home and the £18,000 equity has been set aside pending the outcome of that.

Recorder Nixon observed Wright began taking money because of her and her husband’s spiralling debts of some £60,000 after he started his own business – but questioned what had happened to the rest?”

Mr O’Keefe said: “That she can’t explain. She accepted her shopping habits changed, and she went to more expensive stores and bought better food and more expensive clothes.”

He added for 14 years she had been trying to have a child, and after suffering two miscarriages, she gave birth last year, and if she was jailed her husband would have to give up his work to care for the baby, he added.

Sentencing Wright, Recorder Nixon told her: “I am quite satisfied if you had not been found out, you would have carried on. Indeed, while you were on maternity leave you attempted to make another transfer.

“Had it not been for the situation where your child is so very young and dependent on you, and had I not been told that your husband would have to give up work and put your family back in the situation they were in before, I would have sent you to prison without any hesitation whatsoever.”

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