Accounts boss faces jail term
over £60k theft

Scales of justice
Scales of justice

A thieving accounts manager who stole more than £60,000 from a Maulden business has been given three months to pay the money back or face jail.

Valerie Barnes, 50, used some of the money to pay for her son’s entry to showjumping competitions and buy him a motorbike.

On Friday she was told by Judge Richard Foster she would receive a suspended sentence if she repays the money to Guardian Environmental Services.

Barns, who now lives in Stoke-on-Trent, earlier pleaded guilty to stealing £61,161 from the company.

Prosecutor Jai Patel said Barns had worked for Guardian Environmental Services, based in Clophill Road, for 17 years. She left for personal reasons in May 2016.

While working as the accounts manager from Sept 2011 to Feb 2016 her job was to pay suppliers, the wages and to deal with money paid to the company.

When she left, the managing director Simon Thurstons was informed by a new account manager that large amounts had been transferred to Barns’ personal bank account.

Mr Thurstons, who regarded her as friend, spoke to her and she said she would repay what she had taken. A payment plan was agreed, but when there was no further contact the police were informed, said Mr Patel.

In a victim personal statement Mr Thurstons said if the money had not been stolen there could have been pay rises or bonuses for the staff. He had to put £35,000 of his own money in to keep the business afloat.

Sanjay Versani, defending, said Barns would be remortgaging her home to the tune of £80,000 to repay what she owed. She has until August 11 to repay the sum.

Judge Richard Foster deferred sentence for 3 months to ensure the money is paid back. If it is he will suspend the sentence and look to impose costs, a fine and unpaid work.

The judge told her: “These are serious matters. They merit a custodial sentence. I have the power to suspend that sentence . I will delay sentence until 11th August and I want to hear that that money has been repaid.