A woman who stole more than £40,000 while working at a Blackpool medical centre has been jailed for 16 months.
Practice manager Moira Hall, who had worked for 33 years dealing with financial affairs at the Glenroyd Medical Centre, inflated petty cash figures and withdrew money from ATM machines using a practice card.
Preston Crown Court was told that she had felt out of her depth following her promotion and this was followed by the breakdown of her long marriage.
The 54-year-old of St Luke’s Road, South Shore had earlier pleaded guilty to three charges of theft from the practice that has surgeries on Whitegate Drive and at Moor Park Health and Wellbeing Centre. on Bristol Avenue, Bispham.
She had no previous convictions.
The court was told she was the only non medical partner in the practice, having been appointed to that role in September 2006. She had worked there for 33 years, starting off as a secretary and showing “devotion to the cause”.
Concerns were raised in December 2010 over discrepancies in the accounts and a thorough investigation was launched.
David Traynor, prosecuting, said when the discrepancies were found she was suspended from her role.
The investigation found Hall had inflated figures to cover up money she had taken.
Analysis of the accounts showed 11 items of expenditure of a personal nature. These were largely for flights and hotel rooms totalling £40,417.
She told police she had intended to repay the money.
Richard Archer, defending, said “What went on was partly due to the financial pressure she found herself in as a result of the breakdown of her marriage. She was and is deeply ashamed she succumbed to the temptation because of her financial difficulties.
“There was never a conscious decision to steal from her fellow partners.
“I suggest that the public interest does not demand she be sent away to prison.”
Judge Heather Lloyd told Hall as she passed sentence: “It seems to me you were able to take advantage of the fact that the accountants and your partners trusted you.
“No business of any moderate size can afford to lose around £40,000 by way of theft.
“I accept you thought you would and could pay the money back, but you didn’t.
“In effect you used the practices’ finances as your own.
“There was a deliberate course of offending over a period of time.
“To steal £40,000 from your employers in your situation, over any period of time, is extremely serious.”