Con woman to lose house in company theft

Lightburne Avenue, St Annes

Lightburne Avenue, St Annes

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A disgraced businesswoman who defrauded a small firm out of tens of thousands of pounds is to lose her share in her home, a court has ruled.

Judge Leeming QC, sitting at Sessions House court in Preston, ordered ex-payroll worker Jill Cunningham to pay back £18,250 of her ill gotten gains.

There will be £18,250 to pay or you will serve seven months in prison in default

Cunningham, formerly of St Annes, will have to sell her share in her property to fulfil it.

Judger Leeming said: “There will be £18,250 to pay or you will serve seven months in prison in default.”

The Proceeds of Crime Act hearing came after Cunningham, who used to be the director of a string of companies including a childcare firm, travel firms, cakes company, interiors and a housekeeping firm in Lytham, received a 12 month jail term suspended for two years, after admitting defrauding her employers Signbuild Ltd, based in Red Scar, Longridge Road, Preston.

She was also ordered to do 200 hours work.

A previous hearing was told Cunningham, formerly of Lightburne Avenue, St Annes, overpaid herself a total of £21,722.20 by paying herself invoices for her wage that were “gross overpayments”.

Cunningham, 54, now of Hatton Gardens, London, carried out the fraud over a period between October 2013 and July 2014, Preston Crown Court heard.

Cunningham, who was originally employed by an agency, was taken on at the company, which manufactures digital signage and employs 18 people.

She worked as an administration employee in charge of payroll and supplier payments. The court heard she was “expected to safeguard the financial interests of the firm” but dishonestly abused her position.

Prosecuting, Alex Orndal said there was also a incident where a duplicate invoice was paid to its original destination - and also to herself.

Judge Leeming heard there was “£182,50 available from her assets - her property - which would have to be sold.”

Cunningham, wearing glasses, a green coat and scarf, sat glumly in the dock.

The company declined to comment.