December 12 2013 Latest news:
Monday, August 26, 2013
This is ‘delusional’ fraudster Sarah Coles whose fantasy lifestyle, which led her to steal thousands from her employer and con a couple by pretending she was a millionaire has finally caught up with her.
The 41-year-old has been jailed for two years after she stole more than £17,500 from a Sprowston firm - actions which Norwich Crown Court heard nearly ruined the company.
She used the cash to fund her lifestyle and help pay the £1,750 a month rent on a luxury home, the Old School House in Rackheath.
But when she ran out of cash and fell into rent arrears, Coles instead fraudulently tried to pretend she could buy the property by producing a false document showing that she had almost £1 million in a bank account.
When that deal fell through, the owners Carl and Audrey Brighty were left with rent arrears of £24,989 and a £10,000 legal bill for work carried out on the bogus sale.
Today, Mr and Mrs Brighty spoke about the fraud, describing Coles as a ‘parasite’. Mrs Brighty said: “You just don’t think there are going to be such awful parasites in society who would continue doing that to someone,” Mrs Brighty added.
The court heard how Coles began working as a part-time accountant for the long-established firm of Ashfords Ground maintenance in Tusting Close, Sprowston, in 2011 and after starting work, got the owner to allow her to set up a new online accounting system by saying it would save time.
But instead of paying suppliers she transferred £17,561 into her own personal bank account to fund her lifestyle and help pay the £1,750 a month rent on the Rackheath home. Coles was earning around £10,400 a year, at £12.50 an hour for 16 hours a week.
Christopher Morgan, prosecuting, said as well as the rent arrears and legal bill, the owners also had to pay £1,000 for remedial work to the property.
Coles also pretended she wanted to buy a house in Hoveton, in Horning Road, which cost £950,000 and again she produced a fraudulent document showing she had nearly £1 million in a Santander bank account, but this time when the sale fell through and the owners were not left much out of pocket.
Mr Morgan said Coles tried to blame lawyers for the problem and claimed she was going to New York.
He said Ashfords Ground Maintenance had been founded 34 years ago and employed nine people and Coles’ actions had almost ruined the company.
He added: “It’s reputation is high because of work it has conducted and it always paid its bills on time, especially to its sub-contractors.”
In an impact statement by the company it stated that Coles’ actions had hit the reputation of the company and had almost brought it “to its knees”.
Mr Morgan said one supplier had been told by Coles when he queried a payment that it had been an error by his bank.
He said that her actions over the property she rented also caused a great deal of stress to the owners.
Coles, of Crostwick Lane, Spixworth, admitted fraud and also taking a hire car without consent and was jailed for two years.
A confiscation hearing was adjourned to a later date but the court heard Coles is now living on benefits.
Jonathan Goodman, for Coles, said it was difficult to know what she gained out of the deception.
He said she was “delusional” and thought that after having her home repossessed in Surrey she had money still owing to her.
He said that she had started to drink and found it hard to cope after her husband had to give up work because of ill-health.
Mr Goodman said: “She became delusional that the money would come back. Rather than a cynical fraudster she had a genuine belief that money would eventually come back to her.
“She became dishonest and her reputation has now gone. It was always going to come down like a pack of cards. There is no £1 million in the bank and there never was.”
Jailing her, Judge Stephen Holt gave Coles credit for her guilty plea, but said her actions had caused stress to “decent hard working people”.
He said a report by a psychiatrist said her actions had the hallmarks of someone who was delusional but said in his view her actions were “plain dishonest”.
- For more about how Coles lived her “delusional” lifestyle, see today’s Eastern Daily Press or Norwich Evening News.