Conwoman faked heart surgery to avoid court date

Joanne Brooks.
Joanne Brooks.

Winchester jail put in special measures

Have your say

A FRAUDSTER lied about being in hospital for heart surgery to avoid being jailed.

Conwoman Joanne Brooks was arrested on a warrant and brought before a judge at Portsmouth Crown Court after twice failing to show up for her sentencing for plundering £158,000 from her former employers, CA Automotive, in Gosport.

On the first occasion in September, she claimed she had suffered a heart attack, and on the second, which took place last week, the court was told she was undergoing surgery.

The court demanded medical evidence to show Brooks had a valid reason for missing the hearings – and she was forced to admit she had made it all up.

Christopher Wing, defending, said: ‘There will be no medical evidence.

‘I can only put before this court what is an extraordinary piece of behaviour which is so extraordinary you do wonder if in fact a psychiatric report might be of assistance.

‘She phoned those instructing me pretending to have to undergo surgery. That was not true.’

Mr Wing said the 42-year-old was in rent arrears and wanted to make sure she would not lose her council house in Binsteed Road, Buckland, and leave her children, aged 25, 20 and 15 and granddaughter with nowhere to live before she was sentenced.

She is facing a maximum sentence of 10 years.

‘Clearly as matters got on top of Miss Brooks she made the wrong decision, putting it mildly,’ he said.

He asked the judge to adjourn the case for a pre-sentence report and a psychiatric report.

Brooks took the money from Laura and Roy Carvalho who ran the family business.

Mrs Carvalho, 47, a mum-of-one, said: ‘To be that devious and underhand you have to have your senses about you.

‘She is only delaying the inevitable and she is not making it any better for herself.

‘We just want closure and it’s just going on.’

Brooks has admitted two counts of fraud stretching from October 2009 to July 2011 and failing to attend court.

She started work in an administrative role at the couple’s business, which worked on modifying BMW cars.

She became involved with the firm’s accounts and took the money, leaving the company in debt and forcing them to close.

Judge Sarah Munro QC agreed to adjourn the case but refused to release Brooks on bail. The trouble is that she did exactly the same thing in September,’ she said.

‘I will grant the application for a psychiatric report. I do so because I take the view that this defendant is almost certainly simply dishonest.’