Directors feel '˜betrayed' after employee steals almost £78,000 from Waterlooville company's funds - and spends it on new clothes and holiday

COMPANY directors have been left feeling '˜betrayed' after an employee stole nearly £78,000 from the business's accounts.

Wednesday, 21st March 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st March 2018, 8:25 am
Erin Edwards has been given a two-year suspended sentence

Andrew Thomas and his colleagues at Safeguard Hampshire Ltd in Waterlooville were shocked after finding out Erin Edwards, who had been working at the construction firm for just over two years, had stolen £77,895.86.

The 20-year-old, of Cadnam Court, Broadsands Drive in Gosport, appeared in court last week for sentencing after pleading guilty to theft by an employee and two counts of making or supplying articles for use in fraud.

Prosecutor Rowan Jenkins explained Edwards had been working for the company for a year before she was promoted to senior accountant clerk.

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Mr Jenkins said: ‘That enabled her to have the opportunity to steal money from the business.’

He continued to discuss how Edwards created false invoices and duplicated payments to companies and sent the money to her own bank account.

Mr Jenkins said: ‘Money which should have been going out from this company to others was really going to her personal bank account. Of course what she had done also was cover that up.’

The court heard how Edwards had spent the cash on clothes, furniture, a holiday, a new car, giving money to friends and started to put a deposit down on a house.

Defending Howard Barrington Clark said: ‘She was like a child giving sweets out in a playground to gain popularity and then she had to start stealing sweets.

‘She has no self-esteem.’

Mr Barrington Clark also told the court about Edwards’ father subjecting her to severe punishment. He said: ‘She learnt to lie to him to avoid this punishment.

‘She also learnt to lie to her mum about wearing cardigans to cover up bruises.’

A report was compiled by a consultant psychiatrist for the court case regarding Edwards’ mental health which described the young woman as a ‘convincing liar’.

Sentencing, Recorder Jeremy Wright said: ‘You used false invoices and took nearly £78,000 from a company which suffered serious problems as a result.

‘You were in a position of substantial trust and you did try to cover your tracks.’

In regards to the health report, Recorder Wright said: ‘I am not convinced by medical evidence I have as it does say you are convincing in lying and I have no doubt you are lying to your family and friends as well.’

Edwards was given a two-year suspended sentence, ordered to pay £10,000 over 21 months back to the company. She was given a curfew order from 9pm until 6am for the next three months and must serve 40 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

Her ex-employer Andrew Thomas said his firm was disappointed with the outcome.

The 55-year-old from Fareham said: ‘All of us think she has got off lightly with what she has done and are disappointed this was not a custodial sentence.

‘Luckily due to the way we do our finances this will not sink us and we can carry on trading but she did not think at the time about how what she was doing would affect the people around her.

‘The people who she worked with, called friends and went out with.’

Andrew added: ‘It has made us look at everyone differently and we feel that our trust has been utterly betrayed.’

The firm is now set to take Edwards to civil court over the remaining money owed.