Louth woman ordered to pay back £35,000 after mobile phone fraud

Lincoln Crown Court.
Lincoln Crown Court.

A Louth woman who carried out a mobile phone fraud on her employers has been ordered to pay them back £35,000.

Amy Theobald, who worked for the Louth-based farming industry co-operative Woldmarsh, was jailed for six months last November after she ordered thousands of pounds worth of mobile phones over a two year period, claiming they were for members of the organisation.

Instead, Theobald kept the phones which were paid for by Woldmarsh. Some of the phones were distributed to other people, and Theobald also recycled some of them in return for cash.

A proceeds of crime hearing at Lincoln Crown Court was today (Thursday) told that Theobald had made a benefit of £73,186 from the thefts.

The court heard that following a financial investigation it was established that Theobald had available assets of £35,000.

Recorder Gareth Evans QC gave Theobald three months to pay back £35,000. If the money is not paid she will face a further 18 month prison sentence in default.

The Recorder told Theobald, who has completed her sentence: “You know what that means, if you don’t pay they will lock you away.”

Noel Philo, prosecuting, had told the sentencing hearing that Woldmarsh was a not-for-profit company which procured goods and services for its members at cheaper rates than normal using its influence as a bulk buyer.

“It represents a large number of farmers and has many clients throughout the East of England.

“One of the arrangements made by the company for a number of years was with Vodafone to provide mobile phones for its members. The company would buy on a large scale at preferential rates.

“This defendant was in a position of not inconsiderable trust of purchasing for the company.

“She discovered a way to steal from the company. She purchased a very large number of phones using the company money. She stole them.

“Vodafone realised something was not right and contacted the company and the case was looked into.

“It is agreed that she stole not less than £60,000 worth of phones.

“She was in a position of a high degree of trust. As a result of this the trust that had always existed between the company and its employees has been upset and the trust between the company and its members has been upset.”

Theobald ,31, of St Bernards Avenue, Louth, had admitted a charge of theft by employee.

Paul Mason, in mitigation, had said that Theobald had no previous convictions.

He told the sentencing hearing: “While there was a degree of trust and there was some planning involved it was not particularly sophisticated. She was over-ordering phones and moving them on.

“She accepts responsibility for her actions and has expressed remorse. She feels ashamed at what she has done. She describes herself as an idiot.”

At the sentencing hearing, Recorder Evans told Theobald: “Over a period of time you plundered your employer’s reputation and assets.

“That was an additional £30,000 per year tax-free on top of your wages, which I have no doubt you squandered.

“People who steal from their employers invariably end up looking at a prison sentence.”