10 Jan 2017

£38,000 Company Card Shopping Spree Culprit Spared Jail By Mangina Judge Who 'Hates Sending Women To Prison'

By Matt Hunter: An office manager who went on a £38,000 shopping spree on the company debit card was spared jail because the judge 'hates sending women to prison.'
Sophie Franklin, 30, helped herself to the cash when working for Circle Square Agency based in Bermondsey, southeast London.
Between January 2014 and August 2016 she used the company card to splash out on designer clothes, make-up, sunglasses for her and her friends.
She spent £7,000 on taxis and ran up huge hotel and mobile phone bills under her bosses noses.
Franklin sobbed in the dock at Inner London Crown Court as Judge Owen Davies, QC, adjourned sentence and said: 'I hate sending to prison women who have not been to prison before.'
She was employed as an office manager at the Circle Square advertising agency and began to use the business debit card to withdraw £37,997.
Prosecutor Bill McGivern said: 'This defendant was an office manager at Circle Square between 13 January, 2014 to 20 February, 2016.
'Her responsibilities included booking travel and accommodation, buying office supplies, signing off expenses for mobile phone bills.
'She was the personal assistant to the managing directors of the company and had access to several business cards and accounts.
'This was a relatively small company and she was on a position of some trust, because of that trust nothing was suspected.
Mr McGivern said it was only when she left the company that her 'wholesale fraud' became apparent.
'She ran up bills for taxis for over £7,000,' she said.
'Other expenses on travel, mobile phone bills, hotels, other purchases, coffees, shopping.'
Franklin controlled and manipulated invoices and receipts, the court heard.
Her deceit was not discovered until she had left that position and the new manager did an audit.
The sustained 'breach of trust and responsibility' over had a 'substantial' financial effect on the company, Mr McGivern said.
'There was clearly an impact and loss of some degree,' he said.
Franklin, who has no previous convictions, was arrested on 26 August last year and gave a 'no comment' interview.
Robert Dacre, defending, said that it was 'out of character'.
'She has an honest, genuine remorse and shame,' he said.
Mr Dacre said Franklin left Circle Square as she 'wanted to stop this behaviour'.
Franklin is paying the sum and legal cost back every month from her £2,000 salary, the court heard.
Circle Square provide shops and retail stores with displays and promotional campaigns.

Franklin left her job before she was rumbled and now works for advertising agency FCB Inferno in Covent Garden as a senior talent partner.
She previously worked as a contracts manager for ITV.
The court heard her current bosses know about dishonesty and Franklin has done 'everything to save, scrimp and borrow' to pay the money back and has already paid back £32,000.
Judge Davies adjourned the case until 17 May to see if Franklin can pay back the remaining £5,997.
Judge Davies said: 'I hate sending to prison women who have not been to prison before and who have been convicted for the first time of a criminal offence.
'It seems to me that £38,000 is a lot of money and as demonstrated to me today is not uncommon.
'It should not be possible to buy yourself out of an offence.
'It seems to me following the guidelines today it would be difficult for me to suspend the sentence.
'I think it is an offence that crosses the custody threshold, the question is if that should be immediate or not.'
Judge Davies said he wanted to take into account Franklin's behaviour since the offending but would not make 'any promises'.
'In the circumstances I will defer the sentence on you,' he said.
'If you have done your best to pay it back I will suspend your sentence.'
'You will continue on bail until 17 May and I will suspend your sentence depending on your performance.'
Franklin, of Basildon, Essex, admitted one count of fraud. She will return to Inner London Crown Court on May 17 for sentencing.  

X art by @CaptHaddock83

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