A woman has been jailed for stealing more than £39,000 from the Rochdale business she worked at for more than 25 years.
Sally Etchells (born 15/08/1967) of Church Street, Royton was found guilty of two counts of fraud at Bolton Crown Court.
On Tuesday 19 February 2013, Etchells was sentenced at the same court to four years in prison.
Etchells was the office manager for a vehicle bodybuilding firm, Ken Rosebury Limited, in Rochdale, where she was responsible for paying wages to staff and herself. She was also responsible for payment of bills and outside payments to associated companies.
In November 2010 when Etchells was off work one day, the manager of the company checked the payroll and noticed a discrepancy of just £25 that had been paid into the defendant’s personal account. Further enquiries found that payments had also been paid to friends of Etchells.
When Etchells was asked about this, she admitted the money had been paid to the account of a woman that looked after her seven horses.
Further investigation revealed that between April 2008 and November 2010, Etchells had overpaid herself by more than £25,000 into her own accounts, including paying more than £1,800 directly into the account of the woman that stabled her horses.
After being confronted at work by the company owners about the overpayments, which Etchells was unable to explain, she was asked to leave.
However, before she left, Etchells wiped the payroll system to try and erase any trace of the thefts she had committed, risking non-payment to other employees.
The owners also found out that after her dismissal, Etchells sent letters to the business’ suppliers falsely telling them the company was in debt and would not be able to make payments they owed. She also sent a letter to her former manager making threats about the company.
After the initial charge, Etchells was found to have taken a further £14,000 from the company, which had been paid into her own account over a three-year period. This was disguised as payments to other companies and the inland revenue.
Detective Constable Mark Zebrowski from Rochdale CID said: “Etchells was a long-standing and trusted member of staff at this firm and took advantage of her position to steal a large amount of money from her employers and lead an affluent lifestyle throughout this period, owning several horses. She took large amounts of money from the firm, while at the time the work force was on a three-day week fighting to keep their jobs.
“Once evidence of her dishonesty had been uncovered, Etchells went on to add insult to injury by trying to muddy the name of the company with its suppliers, by wrongly telling them the firm was in debt. Her actions nearly caused the closure of a respected and trusted local company, which employs over 30 people.
“Etchells has now been jailed for her crimes and I hope her former employers can take some solace in seeing her behind bars for the ordeal she has put them through."