A woman stole £51,000 from the letting agency she worked for, cutting into the owner’s attempts to save for lifelong care for his son.
Cheryl Shackley, 44, funnelled huge amounts out of the firm over a two-year period as she felt she was underpaid.
When arrested, Shackley attempted to blame the business owner Kevin O’Hare by making false allegations that money transferred to her account was moved by him in a bid to avoid paying the necessary taxes.
The baseless claims had to be investigated by police, causing delays during which Mr O’Hare became seriously ill and feared he would die before Shackley faced justice.
Shackley appeared at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday.
Martine Snowden, prosecuting, explained the theft happened between May 2016 and April 2018 when Shackley was working for Formby -based Art History Ltd.
One method involved Shackley, of Delph Drive, Burscough, transferring funds directly from the business account of Arthouse Ltd into her own personal ones.
This happened 119 times, with many labelled with the name of a legitimate contractor to cover up the deceit, and saw her transfer £31,000 from the company.
Analysis of the IP addresses used in the transfers revealed that many were done from a computer at her home.
Shackley also arranged for five of the firm’s tenants to pay their rent directly into her bank account, netting two years of monthly payments totalling £19,000.
The final charge involved Shackley using the company’s bank accounts to by goods online from Next and Shop Direct.
The thefts were first noticed when O’Hare checked one of the company’s bank accounts and noticed it was around £30,000 lower than he would have expected.
Checks of other accounts showed the payments going to Shackley.
Snowden explained that O’Hare was working to build a ‘nest egg’ for his son’s lifelong care.
Summing up his victim personal statement, she said he had significant health problems and feared he “would die before this was resolved”.
She said he no longer trusted people to work with the account, adding: “He and his wife live have lived a frugal life, have worked longer in order to provide for their son who will need care beyond their lifetime.”
Defending, Jason Smith said that Shackley, who pleaded guilty to three counts of theft by employee shortly before a trial was due to begin, could be rehabilitated if spared prison.
He added that she was the main carer for her mother, who suffered from dementia and needed daily visits and help with tasks such as shopping.
But in sentencing, Judge Neil Flewitt QC said Shackley feeling underpaid did not take the edge off her crimes.
Judge Flewitt said: “It’s clear from your pre-sentencing report that you have a background of understanding financial affairs.
“You studied business studies, you worked for Santander and the Royal Bank of Scotland and work part-time as a financial adviser so you have some understanding of the way a financial business operates.
He continued: “You were dissatisfied with what you were being paid and felt you were entitled to more and the way you dealt with that was not to raise it with your employer or seek alternative work but to help yourself.”
Shackley was given a 30 month sentence.
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