Focus12 offers addict ‘exceptional support’

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A RECOVERING drug addict, who stole more than £10,000 from her employer to fund her spiralling addiction, is now volunteering at the drug treatment centre that she says ‘saved her life’.

Emily McMillan, of Grove Road, Bury St Edmunds, also used the money to pay for gifts for friends that included a holiday and cosmetic surgery.

The £35,000-a-year personal assistant at JP Morgan Chase, a banking firm in London, made the payments using corporate credit cards.

But she was spared a prison sentence last week after an Old Bailey judge said he was impressed by her efforts to turn over a new leaf.

This week, she spoke about her ordeal, and how she became consumed by the fast pace of city life, socialising every night and getting Class A drugs through work contacts.

The 28-year-old said she spent more than £2,000 a week and demanded money off friends and family to support her expensive lifestyle.

She gave herself up to police after returning from Ibiza last summer, saying she realised that a lot of people had been damaged through her drug abuse, including her brother, whose house was repossessed.

She was told it was likely she would go to prison for fraud and theft.

She admits she only went to drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre Focus12, in Bury, because she thought it would help her case in court – but after 10 days she realised she was an addict and, since committing to the centre’s abstinence programme, she has not looked back.

“Now that I’m clean I can see that I was completely addicted but at the time I thought I could control it and thought it was fun,” she said.

“Focus12 has turned my life, my behaviours and my thinking around. What it’s given me is a miracle – it saved my life without a doubt.”

Focus12 supported Emily through her trial, which she refers to as the ‘scariest time of her life’, and she now works as a volunteer at the centre.

She said: “I know what I did was awful. People trusted me and I hurt them. I’m paying back the money I owe and trying to make amends.”

Chip Somers, chief executive of Focus12, said: “We are delighted with the way this case has ended. Rehabilitation should be the ultimate aim of all proceedings like this and Emily has shown that people can face up to their past, make changes and become productive members of society.”

In court, Emily was ordered to take part in a six-month drug rehabilitation programme, given an 18-month supervision order and ordered to carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work. She was also ordered to re-pay the money she still owes to JP Morgan, of which she has already paid more than half back.

She pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and two of theft.