UNSCRUPULOUS Rachel Simmonite weaselled her way into her victim’s life by befriending his 12-year-old daughter before she fleeced him for nearly £120,000 to fund her online gambling habit.
When the relationship turned sour, she set about stealing from the till at work – pinching £21,000 in takings from Subway in Fareham.
The heartless 32-year-old is now serving two years and eight months in jail after pleading guilty to both theft and fraud at Portsmouth Crown Court. Her actions were branded ‘devious, cunning and persistent’ by Judge Linda Sullivan QC.
Prosecutor Anthony Bailey said: ‘It was a pack of lies.’
He told the court that Simmonite had committed the fraud over an 18 month period, after meeting victim Jamie Buchan and his daughter while she was working at Costa Coffee in Locks Heath.
Simmonite told him that she was in an unhappy relationship and needed money to leave her partner – a complete lie as she is still with him today.
What this case illustrates is the damage of an addiction. Damage to the defendant and damage to the persons around the addict.Christopher Wing, defence
After this, she began to weave an intricate pack of lies, which included telling Mr Buchan, a single father, that she needed money to pay for her sister’s funeral after she had committed suicide.
She also said her grandmother needed money to pay for a flight to Australia to visit a long-lost friend but said she died on the day of the flight meaning the money was not refundable.
Then she told Mr Buchan that she needed to spread her grandmother’s ashes in Florida, so he gave her money for flights, only for her to go on holiday with her partner instead.
She also duped him by saying that she needed money to set herself up as a Pizza Express franchisee, and he paid for her to attend a month-long training course in Cardiff.
He also bought her a car, which she said she desperately needed to turn her life around, despite the fact that she doesn’t even have a driving license.
When Mr Buchan began to realise that he was being tricked, he called the relationship off, only for her to start stealing from the till at Subway, where she also worked.
When this theft was discovered, she called Mr Buchan and said she was going to prison and that she wanted to see him one last time before she went.
He agreed, and the pair slept together, only for her to call him and try to blackmail him saying she was pregnant with his child and that she had prostituted herself and she was going to report him to the police.
At this point, in September last year, he reported her to the police.
Prosector Anthony Bailey said: ‘Mr Buchan was a hard working man, living with his daughter, he was anxious to form a relationship with the defendant and she targeted him because of his vulnerable status.’
The court heard that Simmonite had begun to spiral into depravity when she was medically discharged from the Royal Navy seven years ago due to eyesight problems and osteoporosis.
This, coupled with the fact that she could not have children, her defence said forced her to ‘seek solace’ in gambling.
The court heard that Simmonite spent £87,000 in four years on websites such as Gala Bingo and William Hill.
Defending Christopher Wing said: ‘What this case illustrates is the damage of an addiction. Damage to the defendant and damage to the persons around the addict.
‘All she has to show for this vast amount of money that has passed through her hands is simply the memory of spending the money with various gambling organisations.’
He added: ‘The lies of course were wicked and some might even say unforgivable but that is what addiction does – it takes over the mind and possesses the individual.
‘She is a damaged person herself and that damage has led her here.’
Judge Sullivan sent Simmonite, of Gosport Road, Fareham, to jail for two years for the offence of fraud against Mr Buchan and eight months for the theft from Subway. She ordered her to pay a £120 victim surcharge and court costs and not to contact Mr Buchan.
Constable says Simmonite abused victims’ trust
DETECTIVE Constable Tony Flanagan said that Simmonite has not only taken her victims’ cash, but she has also robbed them of their trust.
He said: ‘The effect on both of the victims’ emotional well-being cannot be underestimated. Not only have they lost considerable sums of money but they have lost their ability to trust people fully.
‘The victims will never be fully compensated.
‘If people have an addiction to gambling they should seek help, not feed their addiction by abusing people’s trust.’