UK woman stole $835k for dream wedding
Published by onlines on January 6, 2010
A bride who stole nearly half a million pounds to fund her dream wedding has been jailed for two years.
Joanne Kent, 26, hired every room in a cliff-top hotel, laid on a fireworks display, splashed on flowers and even bought Armani bracelets for guests.
The mother-of-two spent the money on the lavish ceremony in Newquay, Cornwall, in September 2007 while tying the knot to fiance David.
Kent pilfered £470,000 ( $835k ) from her former employers Wilson UK Ltd, a Walsall subsidiary of an American company supplying the oil industry, before leaving the firm two months before her wedding.
Guests were treated to a night at the Hotel Victoria funded by the bride, unaware that the champagne they were quaffing had been funded by the firm.
Kent, originally from Cannock, Staffordhsire, who now lives in Fraddon, Cornwall, even blew more than £50,000 on cars, paying for an Audi A4 and a £38,000 Mazda.
The court heard she transferred cash to her bank accounts after disguising the money as payments to other firms.
The scam was only discovered when Kent used the wrong currency for one transfer, making a supposed payment to an American company in sterling instead of dollars.
But today at Wolverhampton Crown Court she was finally punished for conning her employers out of so much money.
Prosecutor Mark Phillips said she worked the scam by paying money out of the firm to existing clients, but changing the bank details so it went to her.
He said: ‘Mrs Kent accepts that she spent £50,000 on her wedding, the hotel bill alone was over £37,000, without the flowers, cards, or fireworks on the beach.
‘She also admits bracelets were given as gifts to guests. With the money she also bought a Mazda worth £38,000 and an Audi A4. Some of the cash was also spent on mortgages on properties.
‘Using dormant companies she would put in her own bank details so the records showed existing creditors as paid when it was her and nothing would be thought of it.
‘The financial manager acted after she saw a discrepancy in a £22,000 payment. It was to a U.S. company who should have been paid in dollars and not in pounds sterling.
‘But for this discrepancy it is very unlikely that Mrs Kent would ever been caught.’
Kent had pleaded guilty to one count of theft of £296,047 from her employers between July 5, 2005, and April 11, 2007.
She also admitted fraudulently obtaining £177,845 from the firm during the period of April 12 to June 21 the same year.
Dressed in black, Kent starred at the ground for the whole hearing but sobbed as the judge spoke to her.
Louise Howard, defending, said her client’s family would suffer because of her crimes.
She said: ‘There is no way to justify how Mrs Kent spent the money, however a significant amount was spent on other people.
‘She will have to live with the fact that her husband and her children will be living in a desperate situation because of her actions.’
Judge Michael Challinor appeared to take pity on the mum-of-two as he jailed her.
He said: ‘This was a relatively sophisticated fraud. Only a mistake in the type of currency used gave away what you were doing.
‘Most of the money you stole was squandered on an extravagant lifestyle for yourself or in order to show off to your friends.
‘Although the company had a turnover of over £10million the amount of money stolen was very significant.
‘Because you have an eight-week old baby and it suffers from hip problems I will attempt to sway the prison service to allow you to attend a mother and child unit.
‘I sentence you to two years and eight months imprisonment, reduced to two years due to the fact you have two small children.’
A separate hearing into whether the money taken can and will be repaid will take place later this month.
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