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Thursday 8 December 2016

Grandmother (65) stole €710k to fund life with toyboy lover

Sheena Warner defrauded her boss of over €710,000
Sheena Warner defrauded her boss of over €710,000

A trusted grandmother who stole more than £500,000 (€710,000) from her employer to fund a luxurious lifestyle with her toyboy lover has been jailed for three years.

Sheena Warner (65) almost brought her bosses' quarrying business to its knees during a four-year fraud.

Gloucester Crown Court heard the grandmother of two was able to holiday three times a year in the Egypt resort of Sharm El Sheikh, invest in an overseas leisure complex and also drive around in a Land Rover.

Warner - who was trusted to look after the finances of Julian Palmer's quarry businesses -covered her tracks by falsifying entries in the accounts.

She also lied to a suspicious bank manager telling them she was writing cheques to herself to repay money she had loaned Mr Palmer.

In total, the crooked personal assistant stole £514,679 from Mr Palmer's companies - causing his marriage to break up, wrecking his retirement plans and almost forcing him into bankruptcy.

Prosecutor Alistair Haggerty told the court the fraud was uncovered in 2013 when Mr Palmer's bank manager told him his business account was £20,000 over his agreed overdraft limit.

Mr Palmer confronted Warner and she admitted she had stolen over £100,000 from him during 2013 and agreed to sell her house, car and other assets to repay him.

In total, she paid him £142,000 to cover what she had stolen but hid from him the extent of her crimes, the court heard.

"When Mr Palmer ordered bank statements from all three accounts it became clear she had stolen over £514,000 since 2009," Mr Haggerty said.

Warner had started working for Mr Palmer in 1999 as a secretary and was promoted to personal assistant in 2007.

When she was interviewed by the police in September 2014, Warner admitted the fraud.

The court also heard details of Mr Palmer's victim impact statement, in which he detailed how the theft had destroyed his life.

"My life has changed considerably since this theft came to light - it has been the worst year of my life," he said.

"We thought we would be declared bankrupt and the stress was too much for my wife who left me."

Mr Palmer (66), who has worked in the quarrying industry for over 40 years, said his financial future was now bleak and he feared for the jobs of the 30 people he employed.

Alison Scott-Jones, defending, said Warner had fallen in love with a younger man and when the fraud was uncovered sold everything she owned to pay Mr Palmer back.

Recorder Gordon Bebb QC jailed Warner for three years.

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