Anger as filling station manager who stole £85,000 is spared jail

The Northern Echo: PROTEST: Businessman John Upex with his placard outside Durham Crown Court PROTEST: Businessman John Upex with his placard outside Durham Crown Court

AN aggrieved businessman made a courtroom protest as his former filling station manager escaped prison for theft yesterday.

John Upex unfurled a home-made placard in the public gallery at Durham Crown Court as Recorder Graham Hyland passed a suspended sentence on Avril Jennifer Henderson.

Recorder Hyland had told 63-year-old Henderson he would not impose an immediate jail sentence after she was found guilty of theft of nearly £85,000 by a jury, following a three-day trial at the court last Wednesday.

The judge said that because of her age and previous good character, he would suspend the sentence, and, due to her illhealth, she would be not be able to perform unpaid community work.

Henderson took the money over a five-year period while manager at the Blue Bell garage, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, altering sales returns to cover for the theft.

The prosecution said she took the money to meet mounting debts, while sales plummeted at the station due to competition from a nearby superstore.

Henderson, of Brockwell Court, Newton Aycliffe, denied theft and, after the guilty verdict, sentencing was adjourned for the preparation of a probation background report.

Having read the report yesterday, Recorder Hyland said it appeared she still failed to acknowledge her guilt.

Imposing a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for a year, with six months’ probation supervision, he told her: “The sooner you come to terms with what you did, the better it will be for you.

“I doubt you will trouble the courts again, but if you don’t comply with the order, the likelihood is that, despite your ailing health, you will be sent to prison.”

Having read of the problems caused to business owner John Upex, director of the Upex Group, who has since shut the garage, Recorder Hyland told prosecutor Nigel Soppitt: “I hope you have explained to Mr Upex there are certain guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council which judges and part-time judges are expected to follow.

We may not necessarily agree with them, but we are obliged to follow them.

“I have every sympathy with Mr Upex .”

But as Recorder Hyland imposed his sentence, Mr Upex unfurled his banner referring to a recent court case in Manchester in which a 70-year-old accounts clerk was jailed for three years for theft.

The placard read: “Gran 70-years-old. Convicted of the same crime. Three years jail sentence”.

Seeing the placard, Recorder Hyland asked Mr Soppitt to, “reiterate to Mr Upex what I have said about the guidelines.”

Leaving court, Mr Upex said he was angry that Henderson had, “effectively walked away Scot-free, without even a word of remorse”.

Comments (10)

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12:02pm Thu 12 Apr 12

antagonist1 says...

so who repays mr upex for the loss of a buisness ?
so who repays mr upex for the loss of a buisness ? antagonist1
  • Score: 0

5:29pm Thu 12 Apr 12

darlo_lass says...

done the crime she should of done the time.
done the crime she should of done the time. darlo_lass
  • Score: 0

5:40pm Thu 12 Apr 12

the greek says...

How can this women walk free after stealing this amount of money, does not matter if she is 16 or 60 a very serious crime has taken place and she should be given a sentence to suit the crime , i hope an appeal can be made to overturn this lenient sentence and give this hard working business man some closure and financial compensation.
How can this women walk free after stealing this amount of money, does not matter if she is 16 or 60 a very serious crime has taken place and she should be given a sentence to suit the crime , i hope an appeal can be made to overturn this lenient sentence and give this hard working business man some closure and financial compensation. the greek
  • Score: 0

11:22pm Thu 12 Apr 12

simmo3578 says...

Does she own her house? If so, it should be sold and the proceeds given to Mr Upex. even if it means living in a tent!
Does she own her house? If so, it should be sold and the proceeds given to Mr Upex. even if it means living in a tent! simmo3578
  • Score: 0

6:08am Fri 13 Apr 12

9988776655 says...

Comparing the loss of £250K from a viable business (the three year case) to £88K from a doomed one (doomed from outside competition) is a bit disingenuous to say the least.
Comparing the loss of £250K from a viable business (the three year case) to £88K from a doomed one (doomed from outside competition) is a bit disingenuous to say the least. 9988776655
  • Score: 0

9:12am Fri 13 Apr 12

JJ2000 says...

Whether the business is booming or struggling is irrelevant.
The theft of £85k will have seriously hampered any attempt to conduct the business.
Whether the business is booming or struggling is irrelevant. The theft of £85k will have seriously hampered any attempt to conduct the business. JJ2000
  • Score: 0

8:21pm Fri 13 Apr 12

loan_star says...

She basically stole the wages of 6 staff. She should have been sent to prison, simple as that.
She basically stole the wages of 6 staff. She should have been sent to prison, simple as that. loan_star
  • Score: 0

6:51pm Sat 14 Apr 12

J.Tull says...

The fact that she pleaded not guilty and, right to the end lied to the court saying, she " did not steal any money" should carry a prison sentence of at least 3 years. Unless she's going to pay back the £85K, which I doubt very much.
The fact that she pleaded not guilty and, right to the end lied to the court saying, she " did not steal any money" should carry a prison sentence of at least 3 years. Unless she's going to pay back the £85K, which I doubt very much. J.Tull
  • Score: 0

4:47pm Wed 18 Apr 12

creolof says...

antagonist1 wrote:
so who repays mr upex for the loss of a buisness ?
Nice to find you making positive post's clear to see your therapy is coming on leaps and bounds. Keep it up mate. I'm here for you.
[quote][p][bold]antagonist1[/bold] wrote: so who repays mr upex for the loss of a buisness ?[/p][/quote]Nice to find you making positive post's clear to see your therapy is coming on leaps and bounds. Keep it up mate. I'm here for you. creolof
  • Score: 0

6:36pm Wed 18 Apr 12

spragger says...

Judge says:
'have a punt at stealing £85k, if you end up in my court you may well get off scott free' (Just cut me in)

Still, the Council regularly picks your pocket and always gets off ..
Judge says: 'have a punt at stealing £85k, if you end up in my court you may well get off scott free' (Just cut me in) Still, the Council regularly picks your pocket and always gets off .. spragger
  • Score: 0

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