Assistant boss at Flintshire café jailed for stealing £62k from employers to pay off debts and buy presents

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An ASSISTANT manager at a café who helped herself to her employer’s cash for more than two years has been jailed.

Julie Coleclough got away with more than £62,000 by cancelling transactions and pocketing the cash paid by customers.

Coleclough, of Bryn Derw, The Nant at Pentre Halkyn, was jailed for 12 months.

Some of the money had been used to pay debts, but she also lavished presents on her children and paid for a sunshine holiday abroad, partly because of the guilt she felt at leaving them and her husband when they were younger, Mold Crown Court was told.

But her dishonesty had a serious effect on the company and staff morale and could have made a difference between profit and loss at the café.

Coleclough, 53, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court last month that between April 1, 2014 and September 18, 2016, she abused her position of trust as the assistant manager of the café at Abakhan Fabrics at Coast Road, Llanerchymor, Mostyn, to make a gain of £62,294.

Judge Niclas Parry said that over a period of nearly two years Coleclough carried out “countless, deliberate frauds” upon her employer.

Her benefit, and their loss, was more than £62,000 and there was no prospect of it being recovered, he said.

She had “abused her position of trust, responsibility and respect” within the company.

They were repeated acts, but she was taking an average of £1,200 a month initially, rising to £3,000 a month.

She had been a long-term employee, part of an ambitious restructuring programme within the cafe and she was trusted in her role.

But while others had their hours cut, she continued to take money from the company for her own purposes.

“The effect on the company has been very real,” said Judge Parry.

Her actions, at times, made the difference between profit and loss for the café. But the biggest impact was on the greatest asset the company had, its staff.

The impact on staff morale had been significant.

“You stole so that you could pay off debts which were not your fault but which were your responsibility,” he said.

But she also lavished gifts on her children and funded an exotic foreign holiday for herself and the children.

There was powerful mitigation - her co-operation and guilty pleas, she was a mature lady of good character with no previous convictions, she was hardworking and had always done her best for her family.

Judge Parry said he had read “touching” references which showed another side to her character and he said he accepted it was a personal tragedy for her.

The inevitable custodial sentence would be reduced to one of 12 months but that had to be served immediately, he said.

Prosecuting barrister Ryan Rothwell said the defendant was in a position of trust as the assistant manager.

“Effectively, she was taking money from customers, putting details in the till but then voiding the transactions and pocketing the  money,” he explained.

“She did that over an extended period of time.”

By ringing in items of food and drink and then voiding them, it effectively cancelled the order, he explained.

“She was putting the money into her pocket,” he said.

The defendant had been interviewed twice as part of internal disciplinary proceedings.

Initially she said she had been doing it for two weeks, but when confronted by the evidence made full admissions.

She said she had done it to pay debts and was discontented at being demoted to assistant café manager.

Coleclough had no previous convictions. While her employer ran a very successful business, her offending had hit it hard.

Robin Boag, defending, said the case did pass the custody threshold and he asked for a suspended sentence.

Coleclough fully accepted what she had done, although the total figure had come as a shock to her.

The money had been used to pay debts and also for the benefit of her children, who she felt she had let down by leaving them and her husband when they were younger.

She had been seeking to compensate for leaving them when they were 10 and eight by lavishing things upon them.

Her shame was such that she had not told her family about the proceedings and they first knew about it by reading a report of her first court appearance in the Press.

She bitterly regretted what she had done, was full of remorse, was being treated for anxiety and depression and helped care for her elderly mother.

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