Stoke & Staffordshire

Clerk stole £200k from Rugeley Town Council

Rebecca Mason picture from Facebook Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Rebecca Mason was sentenced at Stafford Crown Court on Wednesday

A council worker who stole more than £200,000 to fund holidays and equipment for horses has been jailed for four years.

Assistant town clerk Rebecca Mason, 42, admitted transferring money from Rugeley Town Council's reserves.

Between February 2017 and December 2018, she took £218,000 in 242 separate payments.

Stafford Crown Court heard the money was intended for repairs to a community theatre and two children's play areas.

The sentencing heard Mason, of School Walk, Burntwood, Staffordshire, was trusted with the town council's finances.

Staffordshire Police said Mason had admitted disguising the payments made to her account as an excessive gas and electric bill.

'Frittered away'

The court was told she spent £18,000 on a holiday, £133,000 on household items and £69,000 on equipment for three horses.

It was discovered after Mason was suspended over a different matter, it was told.

A Proceeds of Crime hearing to establish how much should be repaid has been scheduled for 18 September.

However, police said Mason had "frittered away" most of the stolen cash, and checks had found she had "little or no means".

Image copyright Google
Image caption The assistant town clerk to Rugeley Town Council, Rebecca Mason, stole £218,000 from the authority over two years

In a witness impact statement, council clerk Hilary Goodreid said work to investigate the crime had cost the authority nearly £11,000 .

She said many residents had taken to social media to express their distrust in the council, which she described as "disheartening".

The council said Mason was dismissed on 25 February.

Det Con Nick Gorman said: "This was a significant amount of money that was stolen from the public purse by Rebecca Mason who dishonestly abused her position for her own financial gain in this case.

"Although she pleaded guilty at the first opportunity she knows this was a betrayal of trust that continued for some time."

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