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Forest Gate book-keeper ‘stole thousands to pay wage of former worker’

PUBLISHED: 18:00 04 October 2012

An elderly book-keeper who stole £15,000 from her employer to give to a disgruntled former colleague was spared jail.

Patricia Rump, 66, fell out with the managing director at recruitment agency Grafters Harkaven Ltd after her friend David Fahy, 44, resigned.

She continued to pay Fahy’s wages for another 12 months and approved his claims for fees in relation to a series of “ghost workers” who did not exist.

The scam was not discovered until July last year when the payments were spotted by the manager.

Fahy admitted stealing £27,970.80 from the company and was sentenced to 12 months’ jail suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and undertake treatment for his alcoholism for six months.

Rump, who claimed she honestly believed Fahy was entitled to the money, was convicted of theft only in relation to the ghost employees payments totalling £15,370. She was cleared of stealing another £12,000 in relation to his wages.

Judge Richard Hone QC sentenced her to 36 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered her to carry out 150 hours unpaid work.

He said: “It is quite difficult to understand why Patricia Rump, at the age of 66 and many years of loyal service to Grafters Harkaven Ltd, suddenly decided to act dishonestly, involving the theft of £15,000 which was passed on to Mr Fahy.

“It is clear there was real difficulty between you and the managing director. There is no doubt the custody threshold is passed, but there is mitigation that enables me to produce a more constructive sentence.”

‘Unlikely’

Referring to Fahy, the judge said: “Things seem to have gone badly wrong and there is an undercurrent of him not being particularly well treated.”

Judge Hone concluded: “I am quite satisfied that it is very unlikely either of you is going to commit further offences.”

The court heard Rump had been working for Grafters, based in Romford Road, Manor Park, for more than 20 years.

Fahy’s job was to sign up companies in need of temporary workers.

During the trial, prosecutor James Benson claimed Fahy came under pressure because is was “not very good at his job.”

“He had brought very little business to Grafters by January 2010 and the manager was going to let him go.

“Patricia Rump stepped in and managed to persuade the powers that be to give him another chance.”

In July 2010 Fahy walked out of his job and later confirmed his resignation by phone.

He was paid another six weeks’ wages but after that should have been given his P45.

Instead Rump continued to pay Fahy’s wages – a total of 43 cash payments amounting to £12,600 until July 9 last year.

The prosecution claimed Rump continued to pay Fahy with cash from the safe during secret meetings but Rump claimed she believed he was entitled to the £300 a week.

Rump also made payments of another £15,370 to workers who did not exist.

Mr Benson told jurors: “False invoices were raised against companies that had never done any business with Grafters.”

“A lot of the ghost names were similar to names that had worked for Grafters in the past.”

Rump was challenged by the manager Chris Medhurst after discrepancies in the accounts were spotted in July last year.

“She tried to explain the cash as genuine remuneration for Fahy,” said Mr Benson. “She said he was in the same way still doing work for Grafters.”

Rump, of St George’s Road, Dagenham, denied two counts of theft. She was acquitted of the first count in relation to Fahy’s wages of £300 a week.

Fahy, of Grosvenor Road, Forest Gate, pleaded guilty to both charges of theft.


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