Jailed: Shopaholic bookkeeper who stole £400,000 from employer to fund 'unsustainable lifestyle'

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Shopaholic Suki Smith stole £400k from her employer to prop up her unaffordable lifestyle (Flickr)

A shopaholic who stole nearly £400,000 from her employer to fund her unaffordable lifestyle has been jailed for more than two years.

Suki Smith, 27, stole £396,703.91 from Farleigh Property Ltd between August 2015 and January 2018 so she could go shopping or pay household bills.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Smith went to great lengths to cover her tracks and was only rumbled when an investigation into the company’s cashflow highlighted disparities.

Smith, who was self-employed, worked at the property developer one day a week to process the firm’s invoices.

Although the firm’s accounts had been regularly audited, her crimes were only discovered when another staff member was asked to carry out a cashflow analysis in January last year.

Smith used money to pay HM Revenue and Customs and builders’ merchants Travis Perkins (Flickr/stock photo)

Grace Flynn, prosecuting, said: ‘They discovered payments had been made before invoices had been issued and some had gone to accounts with identical sort codes and account numbers.

‘It transpired that those codes related to the defendant’s personal account. Action Fraud and the police were notified.’

Miss Flynn said that, although nearly £400,000 was stolen, Smith had used that money to pay HM Revenue and Customs and builders’ merchants Travis Perkins £137,936.32 to cover various bills – meaning she personally benefited to the tune of £258,767.59.

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Smith, of Bayleaf Avenue, Swindon, Wiltshire, had previously pleaded guilty to charges of theft by employee and false accounting.

David Maunder, defending, said: ‘She has expressed remorse and feels extremely foolish.

‘It may be that the juxtaposition of large sums of money flowing around the company accounts and her own financial position is an explanation for how it came about.

Smith was sentenced to 28 months in jail at Bristol Crown Court (Wikipedia)

‘This is a case where there are a large number of small payments regularly flowing out. One can see how a situation like this could get out of control when in financial difficulty.’

He added: ‘One of the first things I asked her this morning was what happened to all the money? She tells me that she has no assets and lives in rented accommodation.

‘She has spent it on day-to-day living and no doubt a great deal of shopping. She does not drive a fancy car. She tells me she has nothing of any substance left.’

Judge Brian Forster QC jailed Smith for 28 months, telling her: ‘You took steps to cover up what you were doing and you clearly falsified records to cover up what you were doing.

‘You were in a position of trust and you betrayed your employer and yourself by what you did.’

He added: ‘You turned to your employer as a means of supporting your lifestyle.’

A Proceeds of Crime hearing will take place later in the year.