AN accountant plundered her employer’s company bank account to fund her lavish lifestyle by splashing cash for more than five years.

Lisa McGrath, who spent more than £100,000 on family holidays, designer clothes and a bathroom suite, left her previous employer on the verge of suicide when he discovered the scale of her deceit.

The 42-year-old was given the job as an account executive on the strength of her previous employment with Cleveland Police, Teesside Crown Court heard.

McGrath’s love of designer handbags and shoes had been noted but company boss was shocked to learn she had used the company accounts as her own personal bank.

Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, said the defendant tried to blame the company owner’s ‘laissez faire’ attitude to running the electrical contracting company before finally accepting responsibility.

Her behaviour only came to light when the owner asked for bank statements while he was applying for a mortgage.

He said: “He was shocked with that he discovered as they looked more like a personal account belonging to the defendant than the company accounts.

“He describes at the time he felt physically sick.”

McGrath was caught destroying evidence when she shredded paperwork and was spotted taking bin bags out of the office stuffed with documents, Mr Perks said.

Forensic investigators were able to show that McGrath had taken a total of £104,860 from the company without permission.

McGrath had used the company cash to pay for a family holiday to Tenerife, a bathroom refurbishment, Weight Watchers, gym membership and store cards.

In a victim personal statement, business owner David Jackson said: “The physical and emotional shock to me has been immense. In Easter 2019, long after the initial shock of what happened, I considered taking my own life.

“Frankly, not only did I consider it but I planned it; I chose the method; I repeatedly went through every detail if what I would do.”

McGrath, of Anchorage Mews, Thornaby, pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position between February 2012 and July 2018.

Andrew Petterson, in mitigation, said the mother-of-two had already paid back a large chunk of the money after selling the family home and handing her share over to Cleveland Police.

He added: “She was came to court today in the full knowledge that she may not be leaving out the door she came in.”

Judge Chris Smith sentenced McGrath to two years in custody suspended for two years.

“You were dipping into the business account as and when you needed access to the money to fulfill your own greed - buying holidays, personal belongings, and those sorts of things,” he said.

“You have come unbelievably close to leaving court by the backdoor.

“Don’t come back as any further offences will see you in prison.”

McGrath was also ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work and placed on a six month curfew.


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