A THIEVING finance officer’s activities came to light when she was away on holiday.

Gillian Burke abused her position overseeing the finances of Home Move Professionals by syphoning clients’ payments into her own bank account.

She then removed evidence of the payment from the company’s computer system.

Durham Crown Court heard that Burke joined Home Move’s administration staff in July 2016, organising surveyor’s appointments viewing properties and overseeing accounts.

Chris Morrison, prosecuting, said the business used a system approved by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors designed to make it difficult to misappropriate clients’ money.

But, when Burke was on holiday in July 2019, a company contacted Home Move claiming it had not been invoiced.

Mr Morrison said it was investigated and the discrepancy was discovered, so Burke’s locked work drawer was forced open by a locksmith.

The paperwork found revealed she would send emails containing her own bank details instead of the company’s account, and deleted email records, cancelling jobs previously recorded, concealing her actions.

Mr Morrison said the findings, relating to 62 separate transactions over 13 months, came as, “something of a surprise."

Police were alerted and Burke made full admissions.

The amount misappropriated totalled £26,760, leaving Home Move out of profit.

Burke, 54, of Dorlonco Villas, Meadowfield, near Durham, admitted a single count of theft.

Liam O’Brien, mitigating, said she has no previous convictions and feels great shame, while she will suffer “lasting consequences” trying to find employment.

He added that she made full admissions when confronted.

Recorder Simon Kealey QC said it was “bewildering” why the case has taken so long to come to fruition.

He imposed an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which time Burke must complete 35 rehabilitation activity days and comply with a six-month 8pm to 8am, home curfew.

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