Karen Knowles, a 45-year-old bookkeeper has been sentenced in the UK Maidstone Crown Court for stealing over GBP 160,000 from two companies at which she was employed so as to indulge her online gambling habit.
Committing a series of fraudulent acts over several years, Knowles was making overpayments to herself in the amount exceeding GBP 70,000 at the White Horse Leisure company, and stole another GBP 90,000 from the UK Paper Leisure Club.
After the account inconsistencies were exposed during an audit, Knowles admitted 10 offences of fraud by abuse of position and was sentenced to 18 months in prison by Judge Charles Byers this week.
The prosecutor Keith Yardy said Knowles had disguised her illegal activity at White Horse by presenting the amounts she took as having been paid to regular contractors.
Her criminal activities in UK Paper Leisure Club during the period March 2007 - October 2010 were uncovered in the wake of the police investigations in the White Horse case. It subsequently transpired that Knowles also had previous convictions for similar offences in 1986 and 1991.
"It must be clearly understood that those who steal form their employers must be punished," Judge Byers said underlining that Knowles had systematically stolen over five years committing a long and persistent fraud at an employer who had befriended her.
"The company was slipping into debt as a result of your actions. You gave no thought as to the impact of your crime on others. At the end of the day, this was a matter you knew was going on and did nothing to try to prevent. I appreciate you had problems in your life. I have taken that into account,” the judge concluded.
There were no details about the online gambling sites used by Knowles.