Fraudster has suspended prison term cut so she can emigrate to New Zealand
Judges have cut the suspended prison term of a former employee who stole £36,000 from Leicester City Council – so she can emigrate to New Zealand.
Victoria Anne Clayton pocketed the cash over a five-year period while she was in charge of organising festivals and events for children as an education outreach worker at De Montfort Hall.
The 59-year-old, of Queensway, Old Dalby, near Melton, was given a 12-month suspended sentence, along with 18 months' supervision and 300 hours unpaid work, at Leicester Crown Court in August after admitting theft.
However, on Tuesday, Appeal Court judges reduced her term by one week after hearing this sentence would prevent her from visiting her sons and grandchildren in New Zealand, where she plans to move.
The court heard it was highly unlikely she would get a visa – even to visit the country – as immigration rules prevent anyone with a sentence of 12 months or more within the past 10 years from obtaining one.
The crown court judge had earlier agreed to suspend her jail term as an act of mercy, after hearing she was caring for her former partner, who had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and dementia.
Clayton's barrister, Ronald Jaffa, urged the judges to extend the degree of mercy shown to Clayton when her sentence was suspended just a bit further, given that her punishment would mean she could not be with her family.
Allowing the appeal, Lady Justice Hallett said: "We are persuaded, with a considerable degree of hesitation, that we can do as Mr Jaffa requests.
"In doing so, we make absolutely no criticism of the judge."
She said Clayton's role at the council did not come under any particular department and she was effectively autonomous and given the job of organising events for young people, she would book acts and companies – some of which were paid in cash. Between 2005 and 2010, she deposited £36,580 in her bank account, which she had stolen by inventing fictitious companies, submitting false invoices, or inflating genuine invoices and keeping the difference.
Her deception was eventually discovered following an internal audit.
Clayton said she was deeply sorry and intended to pay back the money by selling her house.