Embarrassed worker falsified accounts to cover up missing £16k

Burnley Crown Court.
Burnley Crown Court.
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A manager who repeatedly falsified figures to cover up £16,000 missing from a post office walked free from court.

Susan Ellis, 48, didn’t steal the cash, but she didn’t tell postmistress Lisa Beresford the figures weren’t balancing because she was embarrassed.

Ellis carried out the “sustained fraud” because she feared she would have to pay the cash back herself if the truth came out, Burnley Crown Court heard.

The hearing was told Miss Beresford ended up having to repay the Post Office the full amount and her health and personal life suffered as a result.

Ellis, of Grey Heights View, Chorley, admitted false accounting, between the beginning of 2013 and March 2014.

The defendant, who has no previous convictions, was given eight months in jail, suspended for a year, with 100 hours’ unpaid work. She was ordered to pay Miss Beresford £1,000 compensation.

David Traynor, prosecuting, said Ellis was, at the time, the manager at Harle Syke Post Office in Burnley. The postmistress was Lisa Beresford, who relied on the defendant to run the branch.

On January 21, 2014, Post Office auditors attended to carry out checks. There should have been about £44,500 in the post office in cash, but when the figures were totted up, there was actually £29,000. There was a total shortfall of £16, 206 - £15, 500 of it in cash and the rest in stock.

The prosecutor continued: “In interview, the defendant accepted she knew money was missing and she falsified figures to cover it up. She denied taking any money herself.”

In a later interview in July, Ellis gave an account. She explained the figures in the store had to be balanced every so often. She said that when she was reconciling figures, if the cash shown to be in the store was more than was actually present, she would alter figures to show there was more cash in the store than there was.”

Philip Holden, in mitigation, said Ellis’s family of four was reliant on her income.

Sentencing, Judge Leeming told Ellis: “You were falsifying (figures) because there were items that were difficult or impossible to reconcile for bone fide reasons.”