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Trusted book-keeper jailed for stealing £145,000 from Taverham sewing and craft shop

PUBLISHED: 08:06 11 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:43 12 November 2017

Samantha Harris was jailed for theft. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Samantha Harris was jailed for theft. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Norfolk Constabulary

A trusted book keeper who "systematically" stole about £145,000 from a popular sewing and craft shop based at Taverham nursery and country shopping centre has been jailed for two years.

Samantha Harris, 42, was treated as a friend by company director of Sew Simple, Sally Dye but Norwich Crown Court heard how she and her colleagues were left “shocked and upset” to discover Harris was stealing from the business, over a seven year period.

Harris of Eastgate, Cawston, admitted stealing £125,000 to £145,000 between June 2010 and June 2017 from Sew Simple (Norfolk) Ltd.

Martin Ivory prosecuting, said Harris stole the cash from the business and covered her tracks using company vouchers.

He said when Harris was confronted about the thefts she admitted what she had done.

In an impact statement from Ms Dye, read in court, it described Harris as a trusted employee and spoke of her “utter disbelief” that someone she thought of as a friend could steal from the small, family business.

As well as the losses, Ms Dye also had to pay £8,000 for a forensic accountant to go through the books because of the thefts.

Andrew Oliver, for Harris, claimed she had started stealing following the death of her father: “There is no standard way people deal with bereavement. These offences have been committed by reason of that bereavement.”

He said that she had been in a “dark place” when she had committed the offences but was now addressing the issues.

He said she was relieved when she got caught and said: “She has expressed genuine remorse.”

Jailing her, Judge Maureen Bacon said she was in a position of trust when she stole from the business and said: “The company relied on you for management of its finances.”

While she accepted the devastation bereavement can cause, she said there was no medical evidence to support her claim or why the thefts went on for so long: “I conclude you chose to continue your dishonesty over seven years. You had a choice.”

After the case Ms Dye said the thefts by Harris had impacted on the company, although the business was still thriving: “It is like she let the whole team down.”

She said the thefts by Harris had caused her a lot of stress and extra work and said she was satisfied with the court outcome.

A confiscation hearing to try to regain some of the money will be held in February next year.

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