County Durham accountant escapes jail after stealing more than £10,000

Louise Nelson, 33, was given an eight week prison sentence suspended for 12 months after pleading guilty to charges of fraud

Assistant account Louise Nelson leaving Consett court
Assistant account Louise Nelson leaving Consett court

A trusted accountant who stole more than £10,000 from her employer has been spared jail.

Louise Nelson had worked for Placenorth Ltd as a duty accountant for five years.

But she spent the last year of her employment with them stealing money from under the nose of her bosses.

The court heard the total stolen amounted to £10,123.47.

The 33-year-old, of Highfields in Tow Law, County Durham, had previously pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud by abuse of position.

Yesterday at Durham Crown Court, Recorder Ian Atherton sentenced Nelson to eight months in prison suspended for 12 months.

During this time she will be under probation supervision and will have to complete a range of programmes, including one on dealing with finances. She was also ordered to pay back the money she stole, but no time frame was put on this.

The court heard how Nelson had seen her salary reduced in June 2010 due to the financial climate but she was able to keep her job.

However, the salary change left her suffering financial difficulties, the court was told.

By March last year she had had a period of sickness after an incident which left her with an injured hand.

Paul Currer, prosecuting, told how someone else was employed to take over her position while she was off.

It was then that questions were asked over some transactions Nelson had been involved with, and the fraud came to light.

The court heard that unauthorised transactions paid to Nelson totaled £10,123.47.

Nelson was arrested in September last year and immediately admitted the fraud.

She said she started to take money from the company because she was struggling for money and worried she would lose her home.

Nelson’s employers, based at St John’s Road in Meadowfield, County Durham, said in a victim statement that they were disappointed in her actions due to the trust placed in her.

They added that, if she had come to them for help, they would have supported her.

Thomas Laffey, mitigating for Nelson, told the court that she was of previous good character and had pleaded guilty immediately.

He told how the salary change had impacted on her finances and she had started out using credit cards but it had become a vicious circle trying to keep her head above water.

He also told about the injuries she suffered and said she had lost the use of her right hand as well as sustaining a leg injury.

Nelson was described as a “proud woman” who would not seek help from family or her employer.

Recorder Atherton gave Nelson a suspended sentence for the 11 counts of fraud and ordered her to pay back the £10,123.47 she took as compensation to her former employers.

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