A 26-year-old woman has been jailed for two years in the UK for stealing nearly half a million pounds to marry in style, two years ago.
It was a wedding that had tongues wagging and jaws dropping - she had wowed everyone, hiring every room in a cliff-top hotel, lit up the night sky with spectacular fireworks, splashed on flowers and even bought Armani bracelets for guests. Of course drinks flowed endlessly right through the night. She also blew more than £50,000 on cars, paying for an Audi A4 and a £38,000 Mazda.
AdvertisementBut everything came unstuck when it was detected that Joanne Kent of Cornwall had pilfered £470,000 from her former employers Wilson UK Ltd, a Walsall subsidiary of an American company supplying the oil industry.
She transferred cash to her bank accounts after disguising the money as payments to other firms. She thought she was being clever in cleaning out - she left the firm two months before the wedding. But crime has a way of catching up with the perpetrator.
Prosecutor Mark Phillips told Wolverhampton Crown Court Wednesday Kent used to pretend to be paying clients, but she changed the bank details to ensure that the money was deposited in her account.
Kent pleaded guilty to one count of theft of £296,047 from her employers between July 5, 2005, and April 11, 2007.
She also admitted fraudulently obtaining £177,845 from the firm during the period of April 12 to June 21 the same year.
Using dormant companies she would put in her own bank details so the records showed existing creditors as paid when it was her and nothing would be thought of it, Prosecutor Mark Phillips told Wolverhampton Crown Court. "The financial manager acted after she saw a discrepancy in a £22,000 payment. It was to a U.S. company who should have been paid in dollars and not in pounds sterling.
"But for this discrepancy it is very unlikely that Mrs Kent would ever been caught."
The prosecutor said: "Mrs Kent accepts that she spent £50,000 on her wedding, the hotel bill alone was over £37,000, without the flowers, cards, or fireworks on the beach.
"She also admits bracelets were given as gifts to guests. With the money she also bought a Mazda worth £38,000 and an Audi A4. Some of the cash was also spent on mortgages on properties."
Dressed in black, Kent starred at the ground for the whole hearing but sobbed as the judge spoke to her.
Louise Howard, defending, said her client's family would suffer because of her crimes.
She said: "She will have to live with the fact that her husband and her children will be living in a desperate situation because of her actions."
Judge Michael Challinor observed, "Most of the money you stole was squandered on an extravagant lifestyle for yourself or in order to show off to your friends," but still sounded sympathetic.
"Because you have an eight-week old baby and it suffers from hip problems I will attempt to sway the prison service to allow you to attend a mother and child unit.
"I sentence you to two years and eight months imprisonment, reduced to two years due to the fact you have two small children," the judge said.
A separate hearing into whether the money taken can and will be repaid will take place later this month.