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Addict took £340k from company to buy cocaine
A COCAINE addict who stole more than £340,000 from her employer to spend on drugs and holidays has been jailed for a year.
Michelle Mullane fell into a life of drugs and crime while in an abusive relationship, Oxford Crown Court heard yesterday.
The 33-year-old, of Trinity Close, Bicester, was employed as a purchase ledger for the firm British Bakels when she transferred the money to her bank account in more than 100 payments between June 2008 and May last year.
Prosecutor Trudi Yeatman said Mullane’s job was to handle the Bicester company’s transfers to customers, adding: “What she actually did was to make payments from that account into a Nationwide account she had set up in her own name.”
Mullane started the fraud when she noticed an accounting mistake went unnoticed by the firm, which had an annual turnover of more than £40m, the court heard.
Her account statement showed money had been taken out in cash and payments had been made to an airline, jewellery company Tiffany, and “high profile London stores”.
Mullane was sacked for missing too much work in May last year and by December there was £38.95 left in her account.
The court heard that it was not until July last year – two months after Mullane had left the firm – when the supermarket chain Morrisons raised concerns with the company over a discrepancy in its accounts.
It was traced back to Mullane, who told police: “I was in a bad way with drugs and I used the money to score. It’s all gone now.
In mitigation, Mullane’s barrister Anthony McGeorge said she had become addicted to drugs while with an abusive boyfriend who treated her “abominably” and once fractured her skull.
He said: “He was a cocaine user and he introduced her to cocaine. What started out as a habit she could afford became much worse.”
He told the court: “It was that need to feed the cocaine habit that led to this continuing offending.”
He said Mullane had now kicked her habit, was working for the Ministry of Defence and dating a soldier, adding: “Her current boyfriend is a completely different cup of tea.”
Mullane admitted five counts of fraud by abuse of position at Oxford Magistrates’ Court last month. In all she stole £342,376.13.
Sentencing, Recorder Patrick Hamlin said there was “genuine and serious” mitigation and jailed her for 12 months.
He told her: “Having slid down the snake, you have managed, I have no doubt with a great deal of effort and strong will, to climb up the ladder.”