Thieving PO clerk’s loan shark claim is dismissed
ADISHONEST post office clerk who claimed she stole from her bosses to pay off a loan shark debt has had her story thrown out by a judge.
Roxy Barton had pocketed £22,184 from the sub-post office, leaving the owners in desperate financial straits, and narrowly avoided going to jail in February.
She has now been brought back to Liverpool Crown Court to face a Proceeds of Crime hearing to ascertain her benefits from the fraud and how much she had in realisable assets.
35-year-old Barton contested the hearing and told the court that she had started taking money from the Orrell Park sub-post office within six weeks of beginning her counter clerk job there because a loan shark was demanding £15,000 from her.
The mother-of-one said she had owed bailiffs £3,000 in 2008 and an acquaintance in a pub told her about “Steve”, and when he came to her home in Walton he offered her £10,000 which she did not need but took anyway.
“I was stupid and took that money. Honestly I just blew it,” she claimed. She said she took friends out, had weekends away and bought items such as designer clothes and handbags, a sofa and TV.
She said she agreed to repay £15,000 at £500 a month but defaulted after the first payment and moved to Fazakerley. But eight years later, in July last year, by which time she was living at her current address in Lunt Avenue, Netherton, Steve knocked on her door and demanded the money.
“He said if he didn’t get the money back he would burn my house down with me and son in it and I had until August to find it,” she said.
Barton claimed that she stole that sum in various amounts from the post office, plus a further £7,000 over three months which she spent on her son and on scratchcards to try to win enough to put back what she had stolen.
Asked by her barrister Charlotte Kenny if she had any of money left “in any shape or form” she replied, “nothing at all.”
The court heard that Barton, who is working in a KFC outlet, has so far repaid a total of £1,484 to the post office owners, Aadil and Syeda Bukhara, but has not worked lately because she had to have a biopsy.
She still has outstanding debts such as council tax and “embarrassingly” £300 to her son’s school’s breakfast club and Miss Kenny queried whether she would have allowed that situation to arise if she had hidden assets.
But Judge Alan Conrad, QC, expressed scepticism that it would have taken eight years for the loan shark to have found her and pointed out that she had not mentioned him when arrested.
“I have considered her account and I find it totally unconvincing and I reject her account of borrowing money from a loan shark and reject her account of what the money went on. There is no supporting documentation about where the money went.
“I find she stole it for a more comfortable lifestyle and to repay certain debts,” he said.
The judge ruled that £14,000 was accounted for with various debt repayments she had made and other outgoings which meant she has £8,200 in hidden assets. He ordered this be confiscated and paid in compensation to Mr and Mrs Bukhara within three months.
If she does not pay this sum she faces three months in prison in default.
When she appeared for sentence earlier this year she received 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years and was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and 20 days rehabilitation activities.
Roxy Barton, 35, of Lunt Avenue, Netherton, outside Liverpool Crown Court – her story did not convince the judge at the Proceeds of Crime hearing