Accounts worker forged documents to steal £58,000

PUBLISHED: 09:06 10 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:46 15 June 2010

An office accounts manageress with a Honiton firm used her position to forge documents which enabled her to buy a £100,000 property in Spain. At Exeter Crown Court 49-year-old Lorraine Groom admitted a series of false accounting and forgery offences

An office accounts manageress with a Honiton firm used her position to forge documents which enabled her to buy a £100,000 property in Spain.

At Exeter Crown Court 49-year-old Lorraine Groom admitted a series of false accounting and forgery offences which occurred when she was employed by F J Jackson and Sons, a nursery and bedding plant company based at Combe Raleigh, near Honiton.

The offences took place over an 18 month period between January 2005 and August 2006 and were only discovered following a query by a customer. An investigation which followed showed that approximately £58,000 had gone missing from the company.

The police investigation showed that some 200 invoices were not recorded and, at the time, Groom had a hairdressing business in Sidford where she employed staff. But she also suffered from severe financial difficulties with loans and credit card debts of £60,000.

At one stage she was paying some £1,000 a month to service her credit card debts and while working at Jackson she inflated pay slips to enable her to obtain a mortgage. Using the money she paid the deposit of £30,000 on the property which was valued at £105,000.

When she returned from her holiday she was suspended and at a disciplinary hearing made admissions but denied that she had been dishonest. She said she had been under pressure and could not explain certain incorrect invoices. That led to her being sacked by the company.

Prosecutor Nicholas Gerasimidis told the court that Groom had denied the theft charge on the indictment which was acceptable to the Crown and no evidence would be offered at the sentencing hearing.

He said when she was interviewed she was forthright and admitted making the false instruments in connection with the mortgage.

Groom, who at the time was living in Whitebeam Grove, Highfield Estate, Dunkeswell but was now resident in Alicante, Spain, pleaded guilty to nine charges of forgery and using a false instrument.

She was granted bail with a condition that she reside in Alicante and return to Devon to be interviewed by the probation service on January 2 next year.

Groom will be sentenced on Friday, January 9, and she was told by Judge John Neligan: "I have to warn you that granting you bail is not an indication that you will not receive a prison sentence.

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