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Thaxted sub post office manager admits £41,000 cover-up

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TrueBlueTerrier
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Thaxted sub post office manager admits £41,000 cover-up

Post by TrueBlueTerrier »

http://www.hertsandessexobserver.co.uk/ ... ver-up.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

A THAXTED sub post office manager who covered up a "mysterious" £41,000 shortfall has been spared jail.

Instead a judge at Chelmsford Crown Court has sentenced Duranda Clarke, 54, of Limefields, Saffron Walden, to six months' jail suspended for a year and ordered her to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Clarke, who pleaded guilty to fraud, but denied pocketing any cash, wept as she was sentenced.

Royal Mail prosecutor Nicholas Dunham had told the court: "We don't know where the money has gone. We cannot call evidence to the required standard to show the defendant had taken it."

Clarke admitted one offence at the Town Street post office, which is part of a newsagent's shop. She confessed that between August 4 and November 12, 2009, as an employee of Post Office Counters Ltd, she used her position to record greater amounts of cash in hand than were actually present.

Sub-postmaster Robert Hubbard has had to repay the loss because he was under a contractual obligation to make good any deficit. He has taken out a loan to do so, the court heard.

The prosecution said Clarke began working at Thaxted in July 2007 while Mr Hubbard concentrated on the family's newsagent's business so he only helped out in the post office when it was busy, as did his wife part-time.

Clarke was in charge and worked with an assistant, Cynthia Dylan, from July 2009 and on November 16, 2009 branch auditors arrived and a loss of £41,168.20 was found.

Clarke was called in from her day off and, in a conversation over a cigarette with Mrs Dylan, admitted she knew money was missing and, when asked why she hadn't told anyone, she replied to Mrs Dylan: "I don't know."

Clarke told auditors and Mrs Hubbard that at the end of July or August there was a £40,000 shortfall and since then she had inflated the cash on hand in the computer system.

Auditors found that everything was in order on July 15, but from August onwards there were "huge discrepancies", said the prosecutor.

Mr Dunham said: "Over two months what started out as a deficit of £25,000 had moved up to just over £40,000. It was not a one-off, but continually changed."

Nothing was found at the home Clarke shared with her taxi driver husband John.

"She said it was not possible to lose £40,000 and she was expecting a transaction correction for what she believed was a mistake. She could not explain why she had not informed Mr Hubbard."

The prosecutor added that she had pleaded guilty on the basis that she made returns knowing they were false to make the figures balance, but without taking any money.

He continued: "She says 'I did this to protect myself. That I had made a mistake which might lead to disciplinary action against me knowing that a reasonable person would consider that dishonest'."

Mitigating, Mitchell Cohen said Clarke had never had the money or ever had any intention to take it. Miss Cohen added that Clarke was of good character, was no longer in work and

The judge, Recorder Francis Laird imposed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, with 150 hours' unpaid work.

He said: "You might find that embarrassing. It's meant to be a form of punishment."

He told her: "You immediately accepted responsibility of falsifying records to cover up a mysterious loss of money. You did it, you said, because you were fearful that you would be blamed in some way for the money going missing, not in the sense that you had taken it but you were responsible because you were the manager."

As Clarke listened from the dock, he continued: "It's a great shame to see you standing where you are Mrs Clarke. You have lived a decent life for over 50 years, been a mother and wife and it's very sad. I can see from your reaction that you are ashamed of what you did, aren't you?"
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Re: Thaxted sub post office manager admits £41,000 cover-up

Post by fishtank »

How can you be found guilty of covering up the loss of money that might or might not have existed in the first place.
This is very strange and not an isolated incident.
Can POL prove the money was real and not just a figment of the systems imagination?
You have to admit it's a hell of a sting getting subbies to pay back allegedly non-existent losses...but would you if you knew you were 100% innocent?
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subbie
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Re: Thaxted sub post office manager admits £41,000 cover-up

Post by subbie »

Hi Fishtank

Its the making of a false report these people are prosecuted for, eg false accounting. No Cash needs to have gone missing to be accused of false accounting. Bizarre but true.

Subbie
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Re: Thaxted sub post office manager admits £41,000 cover-up

Post by clashcityrocker »

But someone has to repay the money that may or may not actually have gone missing? :d'oh!

Sub-postmaster Robert Hubbard has had to repay the loss because he was under a contractual obligation to make good any deficit. He has taken out a loan to do so, the court heard.
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fishtank
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Re: Thaxted sub post office manager admits £41,000 cover-up

Post by fishtank »

subbie wrote:Hi Fishtank

Its the making of a false report these people are prosecuted for, eg false accounting. No Cash needs to have gone missing to be accused of false accounting. Bizarre but true.

Subbie
I can understand that subbie...it's the paying back something that you (allegedly) never took in the first place that i can't get my head around.
Just how watertight is this contractual obligation to make good any deficit,and shouldn't POL have an obligation to prove that a real deficit exists,not just an accountancy/system error.
I would imagine a sub-postmaster must live in constant fear of this kind of thing. :nervous
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Re: Thaxted sub post office manager admits £41,000 cover-up

Post by subbie »

I would imagine a sub-postmaster must live in constant fear of this kind of thing


We do, along with being made to pay back losses caused by robbers.

Subbie
sussub
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Re: Thaxted sub post office manager admits £41,000 cover-up

Post by sussub »

Heads they win, tails you lose.

Appalling that POL couldn't prove to the "required standard" the evidence needed yet still get a conviction.
subbie
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Re: Thaxted sub post office manager admits £41,000 cover-up

Post by subbie »

If I add into the mix, that all POL are after is the admission that the crime has been going on for more than 6 months, if such admission is gained or proved then any subsequent conviction will do, because having gained a conviction of whatever nature so long as it is a criminal law based conviction then the Royal Mail Group recent powers under the proceeds of crime act come into play.

Using these powers the Group can apply for compensation, as the victim, against the estate of the convicted criminal, which can include the assets of any partner of the convicted criminal. The Government along with the Court service also benefit from any assets sized under the POCA, (proceeds of crime act).

Who would have imagined that an Act of Parliament designed to be used against master criminals such as drug barons etc, is actually being used against ordinary jobbing Subbies, who the hell granted Royal Mail these powers?

Oh yeah it was one Alan Johnson, ex GS of the CWU. Thanks Alan.

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Re: Thaxted sub post office manager admits £41,000 cover-up

Post by Post Off »

fishtank wrote:How can you be found guilty of covering up the loss of money that might or might not have existed in the first place.
This is very strange and not an isolated incident.
Can POL prove the money was real and not just a figment of the systems imagination?
You have to admit it's a hell of a sting getting subbies to pay back allegedly non-existent losses...but would you if you knew you were 100% innocent?
Where indeed is this money?

...And, "She says 'I did this to protect myself. That I had made a mistake which might lead to disciplinary action against me knowing that a reasonable person would consider that dishonest'."

Did she actually say this? Or is it that she signed something which this equates to?

Would I cover up the books by massaging the system failures -- maybe, if I thought it was a simple case of a system glitch. I mean, whilst the money cannot be accounted for, there is no actual trace of it, anywhere! Something's fugging wrong there, surely?

This is so much like the reading of another legal action taken recently. In fact, I'm bound to say that someone, somewhere needs to seriously look into this Horizon accounting system, as it seems to be leading to all manner of bankruptcies, prosecutions and loss of livelihoods. :shock:
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Re: Thaxted sub post office manager admits £41,000 cover-up

Post by NWpostie »

subbie wrote:I would imagine a sub-postmaster must live in constant fear of this kind of thing


We do, along with being made to pay back losses caused by robbers.

Subbie

Why don't you give it up ? as far as I can see from other similar cases and fit ups, its a mugs game.
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