Beds, Herts & Bucks

Berkhamsted Light Corporation manager jailed for £2m fraud

Joyce Baker Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Joyce Baker was paid £45,000 a year as the Financial Controller of the Lighting Corporation in Berkhamsted

A financial manager has been jailed for stealing £2.1m from the firm she worked for to fund a gambling addiction, a court has heard.

Joyce Baker admitted fraud by abuse of position at Light Corporation, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, after using the cash to gamble online.

She also pleaded guilty to contempt of court for not saying where the assets were.

She was jailed for 5 years and 10 months.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption The Light Corporation makes light fittings for bars, restaurants, hotels, homes and luxury yachts

St Albans Crown Court heard Baker, 61, of Briery Way, Hemel Hempstead, stole money within six weeks of starting work at the company in 2012, and continued until she left in June 2018.

Judge Stephen Warner said the "planned dishonesty" was committed "over many years in breach of a high degree of trust".

He added it was to "feed the scourge of a gambling addiction" and could not justify it.

Prosecutor Walton Hornsby said she siphoned money into her accounts by authorising payments to an unknown supplier.

The court also heard Baker cashed in a £26,000 pension plan by putting it into a concealed bank account.

Only 50p was left after she transferred some to a sister and spent the rest on gambling, a holiday and household expenses.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption The Light Corporation's owner, David Caddick said more than 30 people lost their jobs because of her actions

Outside court, the company's owner David Caddick said: "She was manipulative, Machiavellian and malicious."

Her intention was "destroying my business" and she made friends with the staff and brought in homemade cakes, he added.

She left the firm when the finances were investigated and initially started proceedings for unfair dismissal, Mr Caddick said.

A restraining order has been placed on Baker's marital home to prevent her from selling it.

Defending, Nathalie Carter said: "She had a gambling problem that started slowly. She did not live a lavish lifestyle."

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