Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Employee pal stole £210,000 from Sussex business
A bookkeeper stole £210,000 from a family business, splashing the cash on “hairdos and new clothes” while the firm faced financial ruin.
Amanda Stevens took the money between 2006 and 2012 from Red Cat, a press agency in Newhaven, run by Jenni and Andy Foulkes.
She spent the money on clothes and hairdos while the Foulkes, who had considered Stevens a “good friend”, were forced to make four people redundant, sell cars, a business premises in Newhaven and take out an overdraft using their home as a guarantee in order to keep their company afloat.
Yesterday (February 7) Andrew Stephens, defending at Lewes Crown Court, said the 47-year-old, of Seaside, Newhaven, was addicted to spending.
He said her desire to steal and spend on clothes and hairdos could be traced back to a bout of the “baby blues” and subsequent post-natal depression, which she suffered following the birth of her only child, Paige, in 1994.
Explaining why she stole for the first time, he said: “It was but an attempt to rekindle the spark between her and her husband by buying some clothes and doing her hair.”
But she went on to take cash from the company time and time again. Yesterday she was jailed for two years.
The situation got so dire the company fell into “financial ruin”, Sarah Lindop, prosecuting, said.
A number of staff were made redundant and Stevens’ hours were slashed. Mrs Foulkes did not receive wages for four months.
Stevens’ criminality only came to light in 2012 when Mrs Foulkes, 52, also of Newhaven, was going through the records and noticed discrepancies.
She contacted Stevens’ husband, who Miss Lindop said was “amazed” to find his estranged wife had separate bank accounts.
Speaking outside court Mrs Foulkes, whose daughter Emma, 21, suffers from Crohn’s Disease, revealed she considered Stevens – wearing a crucifix as she was sentenced – a good friend.
She said: “I never had any reason to think that she was capable of dishonesty.
“When the credit crunch hit we started to suffer. We thought it was because of the economic situation.
“We made four people redundant and other people left – they jumped ship before they were made redundant.
“But it was her – she siphoned it off us.
“As things got really hard she comforted me. She said: ‘We will get through it’.
“She showed me a cash flow forecast for our company and said: ‘It doesn’t make comfortable reading… have a glass of wine before you read it’.
“She is callous and cruel.
"She really was the enemy within.”
The Hon Mr Justice Singh said: “You didn’t even buy jewellery or a sports car – You spent it on clothes and hairdos”
Stevens admitted three counts of theft by employee.
See the latest news headlines from The Argus:
- Police release pictures of brothers wanted in connection with Hove shooting
- Albion sex trial jury sent out to consider verdict
- Fears for Hove letting firm following sudden closure
- Record number of women enter Brighton Marathon
- Stars 'putt' charity first in celebrity golf fundraiser