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Legal clerk bought two houses, a boat, cars and furniture using £300,000 stolen from solicitors

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A legal clerk stole thousands of pounds from her employer to fund lavish purchases, including deposits on two houses, cars and even a boat.

Rachel Swettenham also used the money to pay off credit cards after more than £300,000 was siphoned out of the Stockport solicitors firm where she had worked for more than 30 years.

She has now been handed a four year jail sentence.

She directly transferred the money from the company to her bank account over a two year period, and also paid money into her husband Roger Swettenham’s account, as well as into other accounts.

An investigation was launched after a review of her conduct at the firm, and her home was consequently searched by her employers, who were granted a civil search order.

Swettenham and her husband were later arrested by police.

She stole the money between 2012 and 2014, but all the clients she swindled have since been refunded by the firm.

The 54-year-old, of Sefton Terrace, Deganwy, Conwy was sentenced to four years in prison at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court on Wednesday, after pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position at an earlier hearing.

Roger Swettenham, 55, of Penlan, Llandudno, Conwy was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years at the same court, and ordered to carry out 200 hours’ unpaid work after pleading guilty to money laundering at an earlier hearing.

Minshull Street Crown Court

A GMP spokesman said the funds were stolen between May 2012 and August 2014, adding: “In total, 24 of her clients had funds misappropriated by Swettenham during this time period, and the total loss was £316,162.81. The money was used for deposits for the purchase of two houses, a boat, cars, furniture, and to pay credit cards.”

Det Con Katherine Perry of GMP’s Fraud Investigation Team said: “Rachel Swettenham was a long-standing employee at this firm where she worked for 30 years, but she brazenly abused her position of trust, to satisfy her greed.

“All of the clients trusted her to act in their best interests at a time in their lives where they were most vulnerable. The solicitors firm promptly made sure that all who have been wronged by Swettenham’s repugnant behaviour were repaid and all of her work was reviewed.

“She managed to hide her crimes and paid no heed to how these losses would affect her clients or her employer. Roger Swettenham played his part too by allowing his account to be used as part of this and using the money to fund their lifestyle.

“I hope today’s result makes it clear that if you line your pockets with money that isn’t yours, you will eventually be caught, and could end up behind bars.”

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