Mon, 23 Jul 2018
A MANAGER at The Dogs Trust shop in Newbury has admitted cheating the charity out of more than £26,000.
Donna Louise Richardson, 42, siphoned off the cash over a six-month period and was only caught due to an internal audit, Reading magistrates heard last Thursday.
But her solicitor said the mother-of- two, who was educated at Shaw House, was a victim herself because she was struggling financially and her wages didn’t cover the bills.
Helen Gambrill, prosecuting, said Ms Richardson was responsible for banking all cash and cheques generated by the store and had betrayed the position of trust she had enjoyed.
She added that, when her crime was discovered, Ms Richardson did not show up for work or reply to messages.
When trust bosses were unable to contact Ms Richardson, who lives at Kersey Crescent, Speen, police were called in, the court heard.
Ms Gambrill urged magistrates to send Ms Richardson to the crown court to be sentenced, where the powers of punishment are greater.
She said: “The offence is aggravated by the fact the Dogs Trust is a charity and the defendant was in a position of trust.”
Ms Richardson admitted stealing cheques and cash together worth £26,185.30 from the charity between September 24 last year and April 19 this year.
Steve Molloy, defending, said his client had no previous convictions and suggested she was “in effect, a victim of modern society where the cost of even the most basic living standard outstrips wages”.
He explained that her minimum wage income did not cover the basic household bills.
Mr Molloy added: “She was wracked with debts and the money she was earning was effectively the minimum wage.
“Her outgoings on rent, water and council tax, plus the cost of bringing up two daughters, was outstripping her income.
“Her car had been clamped by a debt collection company; bailiffs were visiting and there was a possession order on her house which was going to render her homeless – this was a woman in desperation.”
He urged magistrates, if they were considering a period of imprisonment, to suspend such a sentence.
However, the court clerk reminded magistrates that their guidelines suggested the “starting point” for such an offence was two years in jail.
Magistrates conceded that the offence potentially attracted a greater sentence than their own powers of punishment allowed.
Ms Richardson was told she was being committed to Reading Crown Court to be sentenced by a judge there.
She was meanwhile released on unconditional bail.