Personal assistant stole £44,000 from employer so she could shower boyfriend with gifts

Telegraph Reporters
Emily Watson, 25, she feared her boyfriend might leave her and stole money from her employers to buy him gifts - Cavendish Press/Pat Isaacs

A personal assistant who was scared of losing her boyfriend stole £44,000 from her employer so she could buy him holidays, an Xbox and other gifts, a court heard.

Emily Watson, 25, was infatuated with her boyfriend and feared he would leave her so showered him with gifts.

Over a year-long period, she used three company credit cards to buy him an Xbox, designer clothing and a personalised number plate for his car. She also purchased flights for city breaks across Europe.

To cover her tracks Watson, who earned £19,000 a year and was one of few people trusted with the PINs, edited bank statements.

She was out of control and did this to seduce her boyfriend

Jane Dagnall, in mitigation

This meant that her illicit transactions were undetected by employers for a year, between November 2015 and November 2016.

She was finally caught after another employee noticed the doctored bank statements and discovered Watson had been stealing cash. 

The court heard she stole £29,016 from Sequre Property Investments, £14,034 from sister firm Ascend Properties and £1,416 from another associated company Manchester-based Expedite. 

She was subsequently sacked and has now been jailed for 18 months. It is not known if she is still with her boyfriend. 

In a statement Watson's boss David Giovanni said he was "mortified" when he discovered Watson had stolen from him and was upset he had to take early leave from a meeting about the scandal.

He said: "She was an integral part of the company and not someone I thought would ever steal from me. Her actions have made me doubt the trust I have in my other members of staff."

Manchester Crown Court heard Watson, from Urmston, started work as a senior admin assistant in February 2014 and was so well regarded by staff she was then promoted to the post of personal assistant to Mr Giovanni.

Duncan Wilcock, prosecuting, said she was trusted with the company credit cards and used a PDF editing programme to alter the statements. 

To cover her tracks Watson, who earned £19,000 a year and was one of few people trusted with the PIN numbers, edited bank statements Credit: Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd

Watson, who admitted theft, said she was now seeking help from a psychiatrist about her offending. Jane Dagnall, in mitigation, said: "She was someone who was infatuated by the man in her life. She felt he might leave her.

"She has been plagued with problems for a number of years feeling that she is inadequate.

"Nobody can believe that she has done this - she bought things she didn't even need like an Xbox for her boyfriend, number plates and she bought flight tickets even though she doesn't even like flying."

Describing Watson as a "nice girl" who was "petrified" of going to jail, Ms Dagnall added: "All her actions have been remorseful and although there was an attempt to conceal what she was doing, it was a clumsy effort. She was out of control and did this to seduce her boyfriend."

But  Recorder John Gibson, sentencing, said he had to impose a custodial sentence as he said Watson had used the credit cards to "maintain a relationship". 

"When it all came out you didn't even have a clue how much you had taken," he said. "It wasn't just theft from the company it was from someone who had put a great deal of trust in you.

"You have made full admissions and I accept your remorse but I have to say that you were quite happy to continue until you were caught. I must impose immediate custody. This may be a very sad case but I have to fulfill my duty."

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