Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Treasurer Jailed over PS26,000 Allotment Fraud

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Treasurer Jailed over PS26,000 Allotment Fraud

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Kennedy Court Reporter

ALLOTMENT holders were left feeling furious and betrayed when their trusted treasurer helped herself to thousands of pounds of their cash.

Nicola Taylor siphoned off large sums of money belonging to the Newbiggin Allotment Association, in Northumberland.

A court heard there was a shop run by the organisation and former parent governor Taylor was responsible for paying suppliers and banking takings. But after her husband's business folded, the mum-of-three started helping herself to money and stopped paying suppliers and VAT bills.

As Taylor was jailed for the PS26,000 fraud, William Hawkey, of the association, told in a statement read to Newcastle Crown Court how the offence almost brought down the organisation.

Mr Hawkey said: "This almost destroyed the association, which has run since the early 1900s.

"It's always produced healthy profits and the finances have always done well.

"At one point we were being threatened with legal action by suppliers if we failed to make the payments.

"We have 400 members and almost all of them were left feeling furious and they felt like they had been betrayed."

The court heard Taylor was treasurer on a voluntary basis at Newbiggin Allotment Association between 2011 and 2014.

Vince Ward, prosecuting, said: "What seems to have happened over that period of time is she kept a significant sum of money from those takings for herself."

The fraud was revealed after suppliers started chasing up unpaid bills. Michael Boon, secretary of the association at the time, challenged Taylor and was given various excuses.

He had to use his own money to pay the bills, although Taylor made attempts to pay him back.

HMRC then began investigating outstanding VAT payments, which Taylor had failed to make.

Mr Ward said: "The association was approaching crisis and meetings were called.

"There should have been enough cash to cover the bills.

"Just over PS26,000 was unaccounted for. That would have been suffi-cient to cover those outstanding bills."

The court heard PS12,000 was found at Taylor's home, which was returned to Mr Boon, making the total loss PS14,000. …

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