Mercy for thief who stole £17k

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page - By Stephen Briggs stephen.briggs@pe­ter­bor­oughto­ Twit­ter: @PTstephenB

A mother-of-four who stole more than £17,000 from her em­ployer has been spared jail in “an act of mercy’’. Tracey Ha rb er (45), from Or­ton Mal­borne, stole from the King­fisher Cen­tre in Bret­ton, which helps adults with phys­i­cal and learn­ing d is abli ties.

A wo­man who stole more than £17,000 from Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil while work­ing for the author­ity has avoided a cus­to­dial sen­tence as an ‘act of mercy’ by a crown court judge. Mother of four Tracey Har­ber (45) was work­ing as an ad­min­is­tra­tor at the King­fisher Cen­tre in Brett on in 2014 when she started tak­ing the money.

In a pe­riod last­ing just over a year, she took a to­tal of £17,416, when in­stead of tak­ing cash from the cen­tre - which helps adults with phys­i­cal or learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties - to the bank, she pock­eted the cash her­self, us­ing it to pay for nights out and clothes.

On Mon­day, Har­ber, of Toft land, Or­ton Mal­borne, ap­peared at Peter­bor­ough Crown Court, where she was given a 20-month sen­tence, sus­pended for 18 months, and or­dered to carry out 175 hours of un­paid work.

Judge Gareth Hawks worth, sen­tenc­ing, said he was grant­ing Har­ber ‘an act of mercy,’ after read­ing ref­er­ences de­scrib­ing her as a hard work­ing, hon­est wo­man.

Gemma Stokes, pros­e­cut­ing, told the court Har­ber con­tin­ued to deny the of­fence when ques­tioned by po­lice.

She said: “When she was asked about the ex­tra pay­ments into her ac­count, she said is came from car boot sales.”

Thomas Bux­ton, de­fend­ing, said Ha rb er was re­morse­ful, and had been shamed and hu­mil­i­ated by the ex­pe­ri­ence.

A Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil spokesman said pro­ce­dures had been changed to pre­vent sim­i­lar of­fences be­ing car­ried out in the fu­ture.

He said: “We have worked closely with Cam­bridgeshire Po­lice since we un­cov­ered and alerted them to the of­fence and through­out the sub­se­quent in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Ul­ti­mately, Mrs Har­ber stole money that would have been used to sup­port the most vul­ner­a­ble in our city and we are pleased with the judge­ment that she must re­pay these funds.

“Our own pay­ment sys­tem was changed at the time of the fraud be­ing un­cov­ered and the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are now in­voiced for pay­ment.”

Har­ber, who pleaded guilty to one count of theft at a pre­vi­ous hear­ing, will also pay all the £17,416 back, start­ing with a £3,000 pay­ment this week, and £500 monthly sums there­after.

She was also or­dered to take part in 15 days of a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ac­tiv­ity re­quire­ment.

Tracey Har­ber

Tracey Har­ber, and the King­fisher cen­tre

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