Bury St Edmunds book keeper jailed for stealing £550,000 over nine years

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News from the Bury Free Press
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A book keeper for a motor dealers in Bury St Edmunds who stole £550,000 from her employers to finance a lifestyle beyond her means has been jailed.

Karen Foster, 52, of Andrew’s Walk, Bury, pocketed £1,000 a week for nine years in payments made by customers at motor dealers EMG in cash for cars, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

The court was told she falsely recorded the transactions as debts on the company’s books took the money to give her family a better quality of life.

Barnaby Hone, prosecuting, said her offending began in January 2004 and continued until December 2012 when Foster gave herself up to police after another member of staff began investigating accounts discrepancies.

When interviewed by police Foster immediately admitted what she had done.

The court heard that Foster, who at the time was earning just over £8 an hour, was making finance repayments for a Range Rover and a Jaguar car at the time of her arrest.

Richard Potts, in mitigation, said it was unclear why auditors had not spotted the missing money earlier.

Testimonials referred to Foster as being admired by many people and was always ready to help others. Foster was hard working and had never taken time off for holidays, said Mr Potts.

He said that partly due to an increasing workload and a lack of time off, Foster’s mental health began to suffer but she felt unable to confide in anyone as she tried to finance a lifestyle that was beyond her means.

Mr Potts said: “There is no excuse. The situation developed, it grew like Topsy and there had to be a day of reckoning.”

No other members of staff were ever placed under suspicion because Foster was the only person who could have possibly taken it, added Mr Potts.

Foster, who pleaded guilty to four offences of theft and four of false accounting, faces a further court hearing in June when an application will be made for the seizure of her assets to help compensate EMG Motors.

Jailing her for two years, Mr Recorder Paul Taylor told Foster: “It is extremely sad to see a lady like yourself in a crown court for stealing over half a million pounds.”

Mr Recorder Taylor told Foster: “I have read about you. You are not a greedy woman. You tried to create a lifestyle which you simply couldn’t afford.”