A law executive has been jailed after she stole £205,000 from her firm – in order to “buy friends”.
Ruth Turner, 46, siphoned the cash from Kundert Solicitors in Coventry in a sophisticated scam between February 2009 to September 2011.
She used the cash to improve her social life by lavishing new pals with pricey meals out, shopping trips and even going to a Neil Diamond gig twice in one week.
The elaborate fraud went undetected by colleagues but finally came to light when she confessed to police last year.
Turner was jailed for three years at Coventry Crown Court on Tuesday after she admitted abusing her position as a company executive to siphon funds.
Jailing Turner, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones described it as a “serious abuse of trust” which risked the company in a tough economic climate and put colleagues’ jobs in jeopardy.
He told her: “You were doing it out of greed, and you weren’t really being as generous as you felt when you were treating friends with this extravagant lifestyle because it wasn’t your money to be generous with.”
The court heard she used the completion of house sales to cover up her frauds and transferred up to #21,000 a time into her own bank account.
The financial loss to Kundert Solicitors has left the firm facing doubled insurance premiums and a #100,000 investigation bill.
Turner, from Hinckley, Leics., started work at the company as a secretary in 2006, progressing to the role of conveyancing executive on an annual salary of #36,000.
Her fraud was only uncovered when she fled the firm in September last year before handing herself in to cops and showed them statements showing the transfers.
Ian Ball, prosecuting, told how Turner committed the crime because she found it a struggle to pay spiralling debts and had felt a social outcast most of her life.
He said: “She found by taking friends to lavish events, shopping, meals, that she was suddenly popular.
“The money was going out as quickly as it was coming in, spending some money on the house, taking friends out and going to live concerts including Neil Diamond twice in one week.”
Mr Ball said she told police she’d stolen about #400,000, but due to lack of evidence she could only be charged for #205,000.
Turner, who has a son at university and was the primary carer for her 75-year-old mother, admitted the charge at an earlier hearing.
Graham Russell, defending, said Turner was “driven to desperation” against a background of an abusive relationship, financial problems and mental health issues including depression and compulsive behaviour.
He said his client felt so ashamed of what she had done, she attempted suicide before handing herself in to police.
Mr Russell said: “Many people who suffer depression find themselves engaging in some form of compulsive activity.
“I would suggest, having in mind the abusive relationship she was in, having in mind that she was having difficulty with compulsive eating and compulsive drinking, that would go some way to explaining the compulsive stealing and compulsive spending.”
A Kundert Solicitors official who attended the hearing declined to comment outside court.