Woman stole client’s cash

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A CHARITY employee who stole £1,000 from a client to repair her car has been told she could be jailed.

Annmarie Hugo was warned that all options would be considered by magistrates when they sentence her next month for fraud by abuse of position.

Batley and Dewsbury Magistrates’ Court heard Hugo met her victim while working as a team co-ordinator for Avalon Group.

The charity, which has offices in Dewsbury, specialises in providing social care to people with learning and physical disabilities.

Prosecutor Alex Bozman said: “The victim in this is a gentleman in his early 40s with mild learning difficulties.

“He wasn’t aware of the offence until it was explained to him.”

He said the theft came to light when a senior manager carried out checks into the client’s accounts.

Discrepancies were found and the police were called in to investigate in March.

Mr Bozman said 28-year-old Hugo immediately admitted taking the money between May 2009 and January this year.

“She accepted that she did not have the authority to take that money,” Mr Bozman said.

“It’s not possible to say exactly how much was taken, but she says in the region of £1,000.”

The court heard that Hugo, of Woodhall Drive, Healey, took the money to pay for repairs to her car.

Paul Normandale, mitigating, said Hugo accepted the theft was a gross breach of trust.

He said Hugo had lent her car to a colleague, but it was damaged in an accident.

“The car had to be recovered and all in all the cost was approximately £1,000,” he said.

“My client and her colleague needed the car to carry out their functions and my client unfortunately succumbed to temptation.” Mr Normandale told the court that Hugo was under ‘considerable stress’ at work at the time.

He said she took the money with the full intention of paying it back.

“She was employed by a registered charity to protect vulnerable people in society and she took advantage of those people,” he said.

“She is totally ashamed of her actions. She knew it was wrong.”

Mr Normandale said the mother-of-three was of previous good character and had suffered a breakdown since her arrest.

The case was adjourned until July 19 to allow the probation service to prepare a pre-sentence report.

Magistrate Helen Midgley warned Hugo that her offence was serious enough for a jail term to be considered.

She added: “But we’re happy for probation to look at a very high community order.”