Employee jailed after stealing £30k and almost closing family business
PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 March 2018
A family-run garage supplier was almost forced to close after one of its employees stole more than £30,000 to buy herself alcohol.
Kelly Marie Ford, aged 40, has been jailed for three years after stealing £30,447.82 from Auto Workshop Equipment Services where she worked as a bookkeeper.
Ford, of Stiling Close in Highbridge, pleaded guilty to fraud and appeared at Bristol Crown Court for sentencing on February 21.
She started working for the Rooksbridge business in February 2015 and began stealing within days of starting, despite being on a 12-month suspended sentence for defrauding a Midsomer Norton business out of nearly £40,000.
Auto Workshop’s managing director Andy Taylor said he was not aware of Ford’s illegal past before hiring her.
He said: “She would pay one of our suppliers and then pay the identical amount into her bank account.
“This whole situation has had a detrimental effect on our customer relations, which in some cases we are still working to resolve. The time taken to correct the situation has also affected our ability to move forward.
“Every time we felt we were getting on top of things, another large problem with the accounts would surface.”
Mr Taylor said Ford deleted records of customers who owed the firm £100,000, of which he has managed to claw back only £20,000. The business is contacting customers to get the money back, but he thinks it will take at least a year to put right.
He added: “Kelly’s actions led me to doubt my ability to look after my father-in-law’s business and livelihood.
“She nearly caused our company to close due to cash flow and loss of work, this would have meant at least six people would have lost their jobs and the closure of a well-respected family company.
“It caused much stress and anguish between my wife and myself. This is a family business and family life has suffered as a result of all of this.
“Every employee is treated as part of the family, as was Kelly, these events and the complete breach of trust has hugely affected staff morale.”
Ford received a two-year sentence for the fraud as well as activating her 12-month suspended sentence from 2015, meaning she was jailed for three years in total and ordered to pay £830 in compensation.