Woman stole more than £45,000 from a charity in bid to keep man she met online, court hears

Sadie Johnson stole £45,600 from the East Anglian orthopaedic club. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary Sadie Johnson stole £45,600 from the East Anglian orthopaedic club. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
7:02 PM

A woman who stole more than £45,000 from a Norwich charity to spend on a man she met online was today starting a 12 month jail term.

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Sadie Johnson worked as a personal assistant to an orthopaedic consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) but systematically stole £45,600 from a charitable organisation he helped run, a court heard.

The 36-year-old worked for consultant Peter Hallam, who was also secretary of the East Anglian Orthopaedic Club, which is not a charity connected with the NNUH but helps promote training and courses for doctors, and she began taking cash from the organisation over a four year period, Norwich Crown Court was told.

Her thefts came to light after she went off long-term sick and when Mr Hallam got her replacement to check the account in January, this year, over an unpaid invoice.

He found there was only £124 left in the account and it was “almost bust”.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said : “He was somewhat surprised and shocked as he expected it to have substantially more.”

He said that investigations with the bank found that Johnson had written out cheques to herself and forged Mr Hallam’s signature.

Mr Youell said there was a total of 93 transactions amounting to £45,600.

He said that Johnson was spoken to about the matter in July, this year, and she admitted what she had done.

Johnson, who was tearful in the dock, accepted that she had lived beyond her means and used some of the cash to pay debts but had also spent money on a man, she met on the Internet.

Mr Youell said: “She said she had no idea how much she had taken.”

Johnson, of Wenman Court, Bowthorpe, Norwich, admitted theft from her employer and was jailed for 12 months.

Judge Anthony Bate told her that she had breached the trust placed in her.

“People in your kind of job have to be trusted by doctors, patients and colleagues.”

He said she had showed diligence at first but by 2004 she had started stealing cash.

He said that as a consultant surgeon Mr Hallam was busy looking after his patients.

“They don’t have the time to devote to routine paperwork. They trust their secretaries and personal assistants.”

He said she had started stealing after coming under the “malign influence” of a man she met.

He said that while it explained her actions, it did not excuse them.

“The account was left with £124. It was nearly bust.”

Judge Bate accepted she was now trying to rebuild her life but said that the offence could only be marked by custody.

“You brought this whole shame on yourself and you must now pay the penalty for it.”

Stephen Spence, for Johnson, said that when the theft was discovered she did not try to blame others.

He said she had written the cheques out to herself: “It was inevitably going to lead back to her. She had been living beyond her means and was spending some of the money on herself.”

But he said she also was naive and after meeting a man online was manipulated by him into taking the money and she had been “milked” of cash..

He said that after losing her job at the hospital she had been given counselling and now wanted to train as one herself.

“She is a rather broken young woman but who has alot of her life ahead of her.”

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