Devon

Unison treasurer Sarah Gorman jailed for stealing at least £40k

The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital
Image caption Cleaner Sarah Gorman stole the money from the Unison branch at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital over a five-year period

A trade union treasurer who stole at least £40,000 from members to pay off personal loans has been jailed.

Cleaner Sarah Gorman took the money from the Unison branch at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital over a five-year period.

She was caught when she took a three-month trip to America and colleagues spotted discrepancies in the accounts.

Gorman, 50, of Spenser Avenue, Exeter, admitted theft and was jailed for nine months at Exeter Crown Court.

'Serious breach of trust'

The court heard she stole money by writing cheques, over inflating expenses, making unauthorised purchases, and making totally false expenses claims.

Recorder Richard Tyson said it was a "very serious breach of trust".

"I accept you stole because you got caught up in an increasing spiral of debt and as a result took out payday loans.

"I regard these thefts as being pretty sophisticated because of the variety of methods you used."

'Estimated loss, £80,000'

David Bowen, prosecuting, said the thefts began in 2009 and continued until she was caught in 2014.

Detectives suspected she had stolen at least twice as much as the £40,000 she admitted, but the accounts were in such a mess it was impossible to say how much was missing.

She issued 192 cheques which she was not entitled to and Unison estimated the loss as being at least £80,000.

She was caught when she went to the US for three months to accompany a sick relative for treatment and handed over the accounts to a colleague.

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