A drug addict office manager who stole £7,700 from her boss in a timesheet scam was spared jail because a judge said he didn’t want to separate her from her ten-month-old child.
Heather McCarthy, 33, stole the funds from recruitment company Paragon Meed in Bury, Greater Manchester, between 2018 and 2019 so she could feed her cocaine habit.
Before the thefts were discovered – and after suspicions grew among senior colleagues – she quit her job and gave birth to her child in January 2020.
McCarthy admitted fraud by abuse of position but was given eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years as Judge Paul Lawton told her: ‘I am not going to have you separated from the child.’
McCarthy, from West Derby, Liverpool, revealed the existence of the child – now aged ten months old – to her lawyers on the day of her sentencing.
Office manager Heather McCarthy (left and right outside court) – who stole £7,700 from her boss in a timesheet scam – was spared jail because a judge said he didn’t want to separate her from her ten-month-old child
Before the thefts were discovered – and after suspicions grew among senior colleagues – McCarthy (pictured) quit her job and birth to her child in January 2020
During inquiries into the thefts, it was revealed that McCarthy had previously been caught stealing money from two former employers and had served a prison stretch.
Her Paragon Meed bosses were unaware of her criminal past.
McCarthy – who currently lives with a businessman who is not the father of the baby – had missed numerous court hearings citing ‘anxiety’ and Covid-19 and currently works as a manager at a telecoms firm.
McCarthy sobbed in the dock and repeated ‘thank you so much’ as Mr Lawton told her: ‘I am not going to have you separated from the child.
‘You have been out of trouble since the offence was committed and I am told that this morning you have informed your barrister of the birth of your first child in January 2020.
‘However you have made endless excuses to avoid any way of appearing at court.
McCarthy (pictured) admitted fraud by abuse of position but was given eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years as Judge Paul Lawton told her: ‘I am not going to have you separated from the child’
‘You cannot steal from your employer and ignore the consequences, especially if you have been to prison for exactly the same sort of offence.
‘You stole from your employers and breached their trust, while you knew the consequences.’
During inquiries into the thefts, it was revealed that McCarthy (pictured outside court) had previously been caught stealing money from two former employers and had served a prison stretch
Earlier he said: ‘When I first bailed her she made solemn claims she would keep to appointments with the probation service and get herself a lawyer. She then tried to ignore these proceedings.
‘I have had endless emails put forward to me where Covid seems to have been used as an excuse.
‘She said she had an anxiety condition but most people facing a breach of trust sentence at the Crown Court would find themselves with anxiety.
‘It is self-serving I’m afraid. I have the clear impression she was burying her head in the sand.’
The thefts occurred between June 2018 and June 2019 after McCarthy was began working at Paragon Meed as a recruitment consultant.
Craig MacGregor prosecuting said: ‘She helped recruit staff for large companies to work in their warehouses.
‘She would interview potential staff, make sure their paperwork was up to date and in order and ensure their timesheets were correctly inputted.
‘But in July 2019 Miss McCarthy was called before her bosses to explain why her work standards had dropped off.
‘She never went to the meeting instead resigning from the company citing problems with drugs and with debt.
‘An audit was then carried out after she left and it was found that two former employees were having timesheets submitted and monies were being paid into Miss McCarthy’s accounts.
The court heard 20 fraudulent transactions were carried out netting McCarthy £7,710.29 via the falsified time sheet method.
She was interviewed by police in February this year and and confessed: ‘It was me’.
Mr MacGregor added: ‘She said it was a former partner who pushed her into doing this.
‘There was a threat that if she did not do it he would tell her employees about her past. She said she gave some of the money to her now ex-partner spending the rest on drugs and drink.
‘She said she resigned as she wanted to keep her unblemished CV and, at the time of interview, was working again in a recruitment consultancy.
‘In fact, it appears she never told the company about her previous conviction and has told her new employers about her convictions either. She is a persistent fraudster.’
McCarthy (pictured) – who currently lives with a businessman who is not the father of the baby – had missed numerous court hearings citing ‘anxiety’ and Covid-19 and currently works as a manager at a telecoms firm
McCarthy had been previously been convicted of stealing from an employer in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, in 2011 for which she was given a suspended sentence.
She was jailed for 12 weeks in 2017 after stealing £4,800 from Belvior Sales and Lettings agency in West Derby where she was working as an estate agent.
She had been taking rent in cash and then keeping it and paying the cash into her own account citing drug debts.
At the time McCarthy said a ‘toxic’ relationship led to her descent into a pattern of drug and alcohol abuse at the time of the offence.
Her lawyer Thomas McKail said about her most-recent accusations: ‘The custody threshold has clearly been passed. Her offending was obvious as she was accessing her own bank account, so it was clear when the audit discovered that she had transferred funds to herself.
McCarthy (pictured) had been previously been convicted of stealing from an employer in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, in 2011 for which she was given a suspended sentence
‘But she was in a rather desperate position in her life and was addicted to cocaine due to having been in an abusive relationship many years ago. It had been an escape mechanism and in some part led to the offending behaviour.
‘She is clearly not without promise as while there may have been issues regarding the disclosure of her employment, she has always found herself in work. She did not join the company having set out to steal from it. Her case is simply aggravated severely by her previous convictions.
‘She gave birth to her first child in January this year. This fact is not in the probation report on her, but she says she never told them given her post-natal depression.
‘She has not engaged very well with the probation service and should have made a stronger attempt to explain her situation fully at interview. She is very concerned about the welfare of her young child.
‘She is living with her new partner who owns his own company. He is not the father of her child but they live together as a family. She has been employed for the past 12 months and has saved up £1,800 to go towards paying back the money she stole from the company.
‘She has used her time since the offence positively and constructively, is the mother of a child and is in a desperate position. She has not been thinking clearly about these proceedings.
‘She has not committed any new offences since this offence and she has turned her life around.
‘She surrendered herself to police two days before this hearing and her two days in custody have been extremely hard for her thinking about how she has lived in the past.
‘She asks for mercy today and report on her says she is at a low to medium risk of re-offending.’