Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton accountant jailed for £400,000 fraud

Kathleen Weir
Image caption Kathleen Weir spent £1.2m on online bets over seven years

An accountant has been jailed for stealing more than £400,000 from her employers over seven years to fund a gambling addiction.

Kathleen Weir, 40, from Southampton, spent £1.2m on online sports betting from 2009 to 2016, prosecutors said.

She previously admitted two counts of defrauding Elliotts builders merchants in the city.

Weir, also known as Kathleen Griffin, was jailed for five years at Southampton Crown Court.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Elliott Brothers said it was "deeply saddened" by the fraud

The defendant began to steal within six months of starting a job as deputy head management accountant at the firm, the court was told.

She made 43 money transfers and cashed 72 cheques before Elliotts noticed "irregularities", the court heard.

Procedures to prevent fraud "were not strictly adhered to" by other employees at the firm, prosecutors said.

Most of the losses were covered by insurance but the company was fined £10,000 for unpaid tax and suffered "reputational damage", the court was told.

'Ransacking accounts'

Sarah Jones, defending, said Weir had tried to take her own life after her arrest.

Jailing the accountant, Judge Christopher Parker QC said she had "grievously abused" a position of great trust.

"You were pilfering from and ransacking accounts for a period of seven years," he said.

Weir, of Edwina Close, who sobbed for much of the hearing, gave no reaction when the sentence was passed.

Police said they had been unable to identify the source of most of Weir's spending on bets, although some money came from winnings.

PC Stephen Webber of Hampshire Constabulary said: "The fact that she has nothing to show for it at the end of the day tells its own story."

In a statement, Elliotts said it was "deeply saddened" by the fraud, which totalled £406,049.38.

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