R v Tanya Drinkwater and Natalie Johnston

April 18, 2019

Nigel Booth has prosecuted a woman who defrauded her employer of almost £50,000, after she had stolen over £100,000 from her previous job.

Accounts assistant Natalie Johnston faced a police investigation after she transferred £122,265.35 from the lettings and management firm Fortis into her own account.

After being dismissed by the company, she found a job at the car dealership Tottington Motors, where she stole £46,851.43 between October 2017 and April 2018. Johnston used some of the money to buy presents for her son and to take him on holiday to Rome, Ireland and the Lake District.

Jason Mawdsley, the owner of Tottington Motors in Bury, Greater Manchester, found out about the fraud when Johnston sent him an email saying: ‘I fully expect you to call the police. I am truly sorry, I am just ill – not that I would expect anyone to understand. I am truly ashamed.’

Mr Booth also prosecuted Tanya Drinkwater, Johnston’s boss and head of Accounts at Fortis Lettings. She moved money meant for other companies to her own bank.

Prosecuting, Nigel Booth said: “Although, undoubtedly, each defendant knew the other was stealing money, we cannot prove that they conspired with each other. Primarily, the modus operandi was for the bank details on the system to be changed and it would look like the money was being put into British Gas.”

Sentencing Judge Angela Nield said: “Fraud by employees often attracts a custodial sentence because employers must be able to trust them and know that it will not be abused. Fraud is often thought to be a victimless crime, but it never is. Someone does ultimately suffer – whether it’s a loss in business or a loss of job for others.”

At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Tanya Drinkwater, of Worsley, received a 12-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months, after she admitted defrauding Fortis out of £16,560.21.

Johnston, from Swinton, Salford admitted fraud by abuse of position at Tottington Motors and also at Fortis Lettings. She is due to be sentenced on 26 April.

The case was covered by The Daily Mail.