altIn mid-April 2013, an administration manager from the north of England was sentenced to prison for stealing funds from her company to fund a bingo addiction. Over a two-year period, Elizabeth Sutton lifted enough cash from the coffers to fund a full house of over £73,000, leaving her fellow managers and employees without pay rises. The 55-year-old was an employee of Camelot Automotive, which is based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and makes car components. The company was founded in 1979 by Trevor Hampson, who employed the accused in 2005 as an administration manager to sit alongside ten other employees. In her role as the sole caretaker of Camelot Automotive’s finances, Ms. Sutton plundered thousands of pounds between 1st December 2009 and 25th August 2011, placing the future of the company ‘in jeopardy’ and meaning that her colleagues were unable to be given any pay rises for two years.

Timothy Harrington (prosecuting) told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court the other week that Ms. Sutton was paying herself the monies owed to other companies via two separate bank accounts. It is alleged that she spent a large proportion of the money gambling online, particularly on bingo sites.

In 2010, Camelot Automotive’s founder, Mr. Hampson, realised that an invoice for £40,000 had not been paid to a Portuguese company, although he initially assumed that it was a technical error. However, after two banks were brought in for investigation, it came to light in 2012 that the funds had been disappearing into Ms. Sutton’s personal bank accounts, even though she had ceased to embezzle money in August 2011.

To keep the struggling company afloat, the directors had to use their own funds to boost the cash flow situation, and were limping by “on a month-to-month basis.” The court heard that Mr. Hampson felt “betrayed” by the defendant’s actions, even though her defence team came up with an excuse for her online bingo addiction. Ms. Sutton’s husband works abroad for much of the year, and has no family or friends in the local area. To cope with the loneliness, she began playing online bingo, and steadily became addicted, initially using her own money, and then that of the company’s which she allegedly intended to repay but was never able to.

The judge, David Fletcher, sentenced the woman to twenty months in prison where, if she wants to play a game of bingo with her cell-mates, she’ll need to stump up her own money.