Com­pul­sive shop­per nicks £130k to fund lux­ury life

She di­verted money from fam­ily firm

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - BRIAN READE - BY LOUIE SMITH

A WOMAN who suf­fers from a com­pul­sive shop­ping disor­der has been jailed for tak­ing £130,000 from her em­ploy­ers.

Claire John­ston, 34, bought Chris­tian Louboutin shoes, ex­pen­sive jew­ellery and treated friends to lav­ish gifts.

The fi­nance worker was ar­rested af­ter col­leagues spot­ted pic­tures of her lux­ury life­style on her so­cial me­dia accounts.

Fol­low­ing her ar­rest John­ston was di­ag­nosed by psy­chol­o­gists with “com­pul­sive buy­ing disor­der”.

Her lawyer Jonathan Straw said the con­di­tion gave his client a buzz from “buy­ing items and treat­ing peo­ple”. John­ston was em­ployed in the accounts depart­ment of an en­gi­neer­ing firm owned by her hus­band’s cousin.

Lin­coln crown court heard that both her hus­band and brother also work at the fam­ily-run com­pany.

John­ston re­ceived in­voices from com­pa­nies and al­tered them by in­putting her own bank de­tails.

It ap­peared she was pay­ing sup­pli­ers but the funds went into her ac­count.

Pros­e­cu­tor Mark Wat­son said: “Col­leagues had no­ticed over so­cial me­dia that the de­fen­dant was flaunt­ing a lav­ish life­style. Money was spent on things like hol­i­days, de­signer shoes and de­signer watches. There were two trips to Las Ve­gas and a wed­ding in Mex­ico.

“There were other hol­i­days in Cyprus and Florida. There were a num­ber of shoes by Valentino and Chris­tian Louboutin and some jew­ellery.”

John­ston, of Gran­tham, Lincs, also spent £5,000 on a week­end in Lon­don.

She ad­mit­ted de­fraud­ing the com­pany of £132,435 over three-and-a-half years.

Jonathan Straw, de­fend­ing, said: “The psy­chol­o­gist de­scribes her as hav­ing a com­pul­sive buy­ing disor­der – get­ting a buzz af­ter buy­ing items and en­joy­ing treat­ing peo­ple.

“This wasn’t purely mo­ti­vated by a sense of greed.

“This was a young lady with all sorts of is­sues who thought she was en­dear­ing her­self to oth­ers with lav­ish gifts.” John­ston was jailed for 20 months. Pass­ing sen­tence, Judge Si­mon Hirst told her: “You used this money to fund a lav­ish life­style you couldn’t af­ford.

“You lived the sort of life­style that many peo­ple dream of liv­ing.

“Not all of the money was spent on you. None of it was a ne­ces­sity.”

LAV­ISH Claire John­ston got gifts for pals

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