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Aylsham woman jailed for theft from building company

PUBLISHED: 17:16 16 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:02 17 May 2014

Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd.

Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd.

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A trusted worker systematically stole nearly £20,000 from a building company, where she worked and was said to have “plundered” the accounts of the small company in order to keep up her own lifestyle, Norwich Crown Court heard

A trusted worker who was said to have “plundered” the accounts of a small building company where she worked has been jailed for 21 months.

Sandra Barnard, 49, stole about £20,000 from KAM building services in Palgrave, near Diss, and is said to have used the cash to maintain her own lifestyle, as she was heavily in debt. Norwich Crown Court heard.

Andrew Oliver, prosecuting, said that Barnard was in a position of trust as she was the book-keeper and in effect acted as the company secretary.

As a trusted worker she had access to the company bank account and had regularly withdrawn cash for her own use and then covered up her tracks with false invoices, he added.

When she was confronted about the thefts, he said she had denied any dishonesty and tried to blame others.

However Barnard of Crompton Road, Aylsham was convicted following an 11-day trial of fraud and false accounting.

The court heard she had been approved as a foster carer but since her conviction, this had now been withdrawn.

In an impact statement on behalf of the company, Mr Oliver said her thefts had a devastating effect on the company, which at the time had been going through a difficult trading period.

He said that the company now faced being wound up in the near future.

Jailing her for 21 months Judge Nicholas Coleman said the consequences of her thefts on the company had been devastating and she had “ran the company into the ground” “It is quite clear you were in a pivotal position within this small company. It had been operating in East Anglia for a number of years providing building services to a number of well-known organisations.”

He added: “You effectively plundered the account of this small company.”

He said she knew the company was having financial problems yet she had carried on taking money from the business.

He added: “Your fall from grace has been very steep and it is a long descent.”

Judge Coleman said that although not sophisticated it had been calculated and persistent.

Ian James, for Barnard, said she was dismissed from the company in August 2012 and said: “It does seem a little unfair to say that she is the reason the business failed. Plainly what she did was detrimental to the company but it would be unfair to conclude that she was the sole reason.”

He said the money was not to fund a lavish lifestyle but to maintain her standard of living, as she was in debt.

“She is well liked by people who know her. The stigma of this will be very considerable.”

He said she was unlikely to re-offend.

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