Judge jails mum for stealing nearly £18,000

A mum-of-one wept in the dock after she was jailed for stealing almost £18,000 from her employer.

Karen Butler, 44, of Bobbin Mill Close, Todmorden, was told she would serve 12 months in prison after admitting de-frauding Hebden Bridge based company Eco Heat and Power of £17,715.62 between September 2009 and January 2011.

She had been employed as office manager of the small firm four months earlier. Butler carried out the fraud by using the company credit card of another employee after he had left the firm.

Instead of destroying the card, Butler, who was the only office based employee and was responsible for the book-keeping and accounts of the company, used it to pay for shopping, rent, council tax and to buy a laptop.

When the card expired the bank sent a new one but instead of cancelling it, Butler kept it and continued spending, adjusting the company books to cover her tracks. She also pocketed £600 from a customer who visited the office in person to pay a deposit by not entering it on the records and falsifying a hand-written receipt.

Butler was eventually found out when managing director Andrew Hodchild looked at her internet usage and found she had been visiting shopping sites. Upon further investigation he found that Butler had been manipulating the accounts to hide her fraud. She was arrested by police in July 2011 and told officers in interview that she had taken the money because she was “skint.”

Stephanie Hancock, prosecuting, told Bradford Crown Court that Mr Hodchild’s business was still suffering from the incident. “As well as the financial loss to the business the incident has caused him to lose faith in people and has unsettled the existing staff,” she said.

Michael Jowett, defending, told the court that Butler was a single mum who had been bringing up her son, now 17, since the end of her marriage in 2004. Mr Jowett said: “Her ex-husband was the main breadwinner and she had £20,000 of debt. There can be no excuses about what she went on to do and she realises how serious this offending was and the impact it has had on her co-workers.”

He added that Butler had recently started a foundation degree in Politics and History, but the judge, Recorder Felicity Davies said: “You seem to have found the funds to take on what some would regard the pleasure of middle aged academic life. You were motivated by greed, not need.”