Payroll manager jailed for high value theft - Hemel Hempstead

26/10/2012

A payroll manager who stole more than £90,000 from her company was jailed for 21-months on Friday, 26 October 2012.

Michele Griffiths used the names of former employees at Eckoh in Hemel Hempstead to pay money into her account.

Griffiths, from Linslade, Leighton Buzzard, also paid £500 to her mother and £1,800 to friends who were going on holiday to Torquay with her and her husband Jason.

Prosecutor Philip Misner told St Albans Crown Court that Griffiths: "acted in a gross breach of trust" between October 2007 and May this year when she worked as the Human Resources Payroll Manager.

Her activities were uncovered by chance by the firm's Finance Director Adam Maloney, who called in the police on 28 May. When questioned, she said she was £20,000 in debt and had a big mortgage. She said she had "tried to keep people happy."

Asked about another payment that came to light after her arrest, she said she had been "annoyed" that she had not got a bonus, said the prosecutor.

Griffiths had started at the company in 2005, becoming the manager the following year.  She had been dismissed from her previous job for altering her salary details between 19 December 2003 and 26 March 2004. As a result, she received a police caution after admitting theft of around £1,000.

The total taken by Griffiths was £78,963 with £12,827 paid in tax and National Insurance for the fictitious workers.

Griffiths, 41, of Himley Green, Linslade appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to six charges of false accounting and one of transferring criminal property.

Andrew Morton, defending, said Griffiths was the sole member of the Human Resources Department at the company, which has 120 employees.

At the time, he said the family budget was stretched by a large mortgage. The money had not been used for an extravagant lifestyle and she was determined to repay it, he said.

Jailing her, Judge Stephen Warner told her: "This was a serious breach of trust. You used your position and knowledge to divert money to fictitious employees. It only stopped when it was discovered by chance.

"Some of the money had been given to friends of yours - it was not your money to give. It is clear from your background there is a dishonest streak in you, but I accept the money you diverted was not spent on high living. There is little prospect of it being repaid in the future.

"This case is a tragedy for everyone concerned, including your family."

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