UK & World News
Fraud Secretary Helen Hart Gets Four Years
A former company secretary who swindled more than £300,000 and went to great lengths to "copy" the upmarket lifestyle of her employers has been jailed for four years.
Helen Hart, 46, stole from her bosses for years and used the cash to splash out on luxury cars, cosmetic treatments and a box at Chelsea Football Club.
Hart forged official court documents, solicitors' letters and the signature of Philip Desmonde - company director of PDP Green Consultants Ltd, where she was working during much of the deception - in an effort to secure finance and back up claims of her wealth.
The fraudster told people much of the money was inherited, including from a relative who was shot dead.
She regularly travelled to London to undergo cosmetic treatment as part of a plan to lose weight and change her image, staying at the £350-a-night Dorchester hotel and going to the theatre.
Later, she took a 21-year-old man she met at her gym to a game at Chelsea FC, paying £5,000 for a hospitality box for the afternoon, Truro Crown Court in Cornwall heard.
Hart even ordered a renovations company to carry out £1.5m worth of work to a £3m home she said she was about to buy.
The sale did not go through, although the local firm had already carried out at least £30,000 worth of work.
Judge John Neligan described her actions as "a blatant and brazen breach of trust" when he sentenced her.
Prosecutor Jo Martin said Hart spent £65,000 in five years on high-end cars, including a Mercedes CLS, Lexus, BMW, Range Rover and Porsche.
Hart also had a £25,000 bill at Harrods, spent £16,000 at the Dorchester, and £22,000 at Marks and Spencer.
The court heard colleagues went almost the entire length of her deception without once suspecting their business was bankrolling her extravagant spending.
Her lies only began to unravel when HM Revenue and Customs sent a letter to PDP relating to a winding-up notice.
Piers Norsworthy, defending, said: "Had the company been run properly, the directors would have spotted it."
Hart, he said, had been in an abusive marriage - a relationship which started in her teenage years - and she had had five abortions, all of which were forced upon her by her husband.
A sixth pregnancy resulted in a baby girl but she died at four weeks.
He said Hart's greatest fear was not being released from prison in time to see her ill mother alive again.
Hart, from Illogan in west Cornwall, admitted 14 counts of fraud, three of obtaining a money transfer by deception, and one of theft between October 2005 and May 2012.
Wearing a dark coat and with her dyed blonde hair in a pony tail, she wept silently at times throughout the two-and-a-half hour hearing.
She occasionally glanced at Mr Desmonde in the gallery while details of her offences against him were read out.
Sentencing, the judge said: "These are blatant and brazen breaches of trust and one of the most obvious breaches of trust that an employee can commit.
"Your lifestyle, if I may say so, was a lavish one at the expense of your employer."
Hart showed no emotion as she was sentenced but mouthed that she was okay to a supporter in the court.
what do you think?
Little Miss Moneypenny
I do hope she will survive in prison.She is so used to the high life that a prison regime of everyday mundane life could be too much for her. The prison authorities will have to keep an eye out for her that other inmates do not make life too unpleasant for her. Being in a shared cell with a stranger and no longer drinking champagne will come as a big shock. just hope she can cope
Did her stealing cause the company to go bust then? If it did then she deserves everything she gets.