A CONVICTED fraudster who stole more than £30,000 from a charity for the blind has resumed her accountancy business after being released from prison, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Karen Iley, from Darlington, was jailed for a year in 2008 after stealing from the Darlington and District Talking Newspaper, while working as its volunteer treasurer.

She also stole more than £1,500 from a business referral organisation, as well as dishonestly making a false representation to make a gain of £2,056 by the fraudulent use of a cheque.

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Having served her sentence, she is free to run her company, Iley Associates, from her offices in the town's Garden Street.

There is no suggestion she is breaking the law now and no order was made banning her from practising as an accountant when she was sentenced.

The judge at Teesside Crown Court, in June 2008, Recorder Peter Johnson, described her behaviour as "pilfering on a large scale" and "a blizzard of dishonest acts", after hearing how she gave £20,000 of the charity's funds to her partner, so he could buy a new car.

When approached, Iley said she had moved on with her life and accused , accusing The Northern Echo of trying to "drag up the past" in an effort to sell newspapers.

Ms Iley, who is in her 50s, also appeared to dispute the circumstances of her conviction, but was unwilling to expand.

She declined to offer reassurance to her current clients when asked, saying: "The only people I care about are the people who did not judge me."

Industry body the Institute of Chartered Accountants regulates the practice of its members, but it is understood that Iley does not claim membership of the organisation.

Her company is registered with Companies House as Iley Enterprises Limited, which her website says incorporates Iley Associates.

Companies House's website lists the nature of Iley Enterprises' business as 'computer facilities management', rather than accounting.

Among the services offered by Iley, according to her website, are book-keeping, accounts and tax returns.

The website claims: "A comment that has been made over and over again by people who have met Karen is that she is not a typical accountant. She is lively, outgoing, considerate and has the distinct knack of putting you at your ease."

A spokeswoman for the talking newspaper, which records stories from The Northern Echo onto CDs, for the benefit of visually-impaired people, said the organisation did not wish to comment until after its next committee meeting in January.