Thiev­ing PO clerk’s loan shark claim is dis­missed

Midweek Visiter - - Southport Bid - BY LYNDA ROUGHLEY vis­iternews?south­portvis­ @Visiter

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

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