A ‘delusional’ accountant has been jailed for two years after stealing from her employer, posing as a millionaire and duping a couple through the use of online accounting report Harris & Co chartered accountants Northampton who specialise in accountancy services for small businesses.
Norwich Crown Court heard how Sarah Coles, 41, stole more than £17,500 from Ashfords - a ground maintenance firm where she worked - to fund a fantasy lifestyle and help pay £1,750 a month rent on a luxury home in the county.
But when her rent fell into arrears, Coles – who errant around £10,400 a year, for 16 hours a week - pretended she could buy the property by producing a false document revealing she had £1m in the bank.
When the deal inevitably fell through, owners Carl and Audrey Brighty were left with rent arrears of £24,989 and a £10,000 legal bill for work carried out on the aborted sale.
The court heard how Coles started working as a part-time accountant for Ashfords in 2011 and convinced her boss to allow her to set up an online accounting system claiming it would save time.
But she immediately began to divert £17,561 into her personal bank account to fund her lifestyle and help pay the £1,750 a month rent.
Coles also attempted to buy a £950,000 property in Hoveton, again producing a fraudulent document showing she had nearly £1m in a Santander bank account. Her plans duly fell through.
The crooked accountant tried to blame lawyers for the problem and claimed she was relocating to New York.
The court heard how her actions had almost brought the 34-year-old company, which employed nine people - ‘to its knees’.
Coles, of Crostwick Lane, Spixworth, admitted fraud and also taking a hire car without consent and was jailed for two years.
A confiscation hearing was adjourned to a later date but the court heard Coles is now living on benefits.
Defending, Jonathan Goodman, said she was clearly ‘delusional’ and had started to drink and found it hard to cope when her husband had to give up work due to ill-health.
While giving Coles credit for her guilty plea, Judge Stephen Holt said her behaviour had caused stress to ‘decent hard working people’ and her actions were ‘plain dishonest’.