Portsmouth woman who stole £4k from charity saving children from traffickers is jailed

A CROOKED shop manager who stole thousands of pounds from a charity helping to save children from sex traffickers has been jailed.

Saturday, 20th July 2019, 1:00 am
Joanne Brooks.

Conwoman Joanne Brooks, 49, shook in the dock at Portsmouth Crown Court yesterday as she was jailed for 16 months for stealing £4,272.92 from Stella’s Voice.

The mother-of-three was still on licence when she committed the crime, having been jailed for five years in 2012 for stealing £156,000 from her previous employers.

Sentencing, Judge David Melville QC said: ‘It’s almost unbelievable that you should go and do this again.

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‘The good name of the charity has been stained by your dishonesty.’

The court heard how Brooks joined the Stella’s Voice as a volunteer in March 2016 and soon became someone bosses had ‘absolute’ trust in.

Within a year, she had risen from unpaid work to full-time supervisor of Stella’s Voice’s North End base in Kingston Road, and entrusted with banking the store’s takings every month. She also became a trusted friend to the volunteers.

But in reality, she was preparing to steal thousands of pounds in a botched scheme she would later try and blame on her ‘friends’.

Brooks, of Binsteed Road, Buckland, began plundering the store’s safe between February 28, 2017 and April 1, of that year.

However, her scheme was discovered when finance chiefs alerted her bosses the store’s online books didn’t add up.

When asked about where the cash was, Brooks repeatedly lied, first saying it must have been a fault on the company’s online system before ‘changing tact’ and trying to point blame at the bank or one of her colleagues.

It was a lie she maintained for two years, right up to the first day of her trial last month when she eventually caved in and admitted the theft.

Brooks’s former area manager, Wayne Keeping, said her crimes had left staff ‘betrayed’.

Reading Mr Keeping’s statement, prosecutor Timothy Compton said: ‘This has left us all shocked someone we trusted – and who knew very well what we were raising money for, to protect young boys and girls from human trafficking – would do this and not show any remorse.’

Brooks must serve half her sentence before she is released on licence.