Mum’s £587,000 fraud to pay off son’s drugs debts

Susan Rennie
Susan Rennie
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A mum-of-three siphoned off more than half a million pounds from her employer to pay off her teenage son’s £200,000 drug debt before spending the rest on herself.

Susan Rennie, 51, who has been jailed for four and a half years, was said to have had “an addiction to taking money” after stealing £587,471.24 from health IT provider Ascribe.

She would make false or duplicate invoices. Money was paid into her bank account

Bolton Crown Court heard that Rennie had moved to Lytham for a “fresh start” after being convicted of a £4,000 benefit fraud and stealing £9,500 from a previous employer.

But she soon returned to her criminal ways and began abusing her position as a purchase ledger supervisor at the Bolton-based company to make 105 fraudulent transactions into her bank account.

The court was told that, as a result, Ascribe Ltd, which supplies IT solutions to the healthcare industry including the NHS and has a turnover of £33m, had gone on to sell the company at a loss.

Rennie pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position at a previous hearing.

The court was told Rennie began working for the company on a £22,000 salary in 2007 and while still subject to a suspended sentence for the previous theft from an employer.

Prior to her offences she was described as a “model employee”, who worked “diligently and honestly” at Ascribe.

But the court was told in October 2009 she stole £11.50 – the first of 105 transactions which she carried out by making false or duplicated invoices.

Towards the end of her employment she made two £33,000 transactions.

Nicholas Clarke, prosecuting, said part of her role was to chase debts that were owed to the company and was responsible for the invoicing.

He said: “She would make false or duplicate invoices. Money was paid into her bank account.”

The court heard she had given her own bank details to a company accountant who had added her details to the system.

Mr Clarke added: “It was to this defendant’s bank account invoices had been paid.”

But the company only realised profits were down after Rennie resigned.

Mr Clarke went on: “The ramifications from her theft are many; the company spent £125,000 on the investigations. In addition, while the fraudulent transactions were taking place, the company was sold based on its profitability.”

The court heard that when the company was sold, profits were down by £175,000, thus reducing the value of the company by as much as £3m as a result of the thefts.

He added: “This is an abuse of trust and responsibility, there is planning and it is a sophisticated offence. The company lost £500,000 directly and other costs indirectly.”

For Rennie, Rachel Woods said she had moved to the Fylde coast to make a fresh start and leave her previous offending ways behind her.

“The initial motive for this fraud was due to her 18-year-old son, who had a desperate addiction to cocaine. To that end she used about £200,000 to attempt to pay off the debts he had accrued over the years for that addiction. The remaining money was used for her own purposes.”

Miss Woods added that it had become “impossible” for her client to own up.

She told the court that Rennie had not been living in “luxurious” accommodation but a house worth £150,000 - with some of the money stolen put towards the property.

Passing sentence, Judge Graeme Smith told Rennie: “You appear to have an addiction to taking money.

“You were entrusted with certain responsibilities for the company finances and you abused that.”

A spokesman for EMIS Group, which acquired Ascribe, said: “We have put in place additional measures to ensure that such an incident could not happen again.”