Financial adviser at Leeds firm carried out £10,000 fraud to settle her pay day loans and gambling debts

Leeds Crown Court
Leeds Crown Court
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A financial adviser who defrauded her employer out of more than £10,000 to settle pay day loans and gambling debts has been sent to prison.

Joanne Holliday abused her position at the financial services company where she worked by arranging for premiums to be paid into her own bank account.

Leeds Crown Court heard Holliday carried out the offending to pay off spiralling pay day loan debts and losses from gambling.

Anthony Moore, prosecuting, said Holliday's deception put her colleagues' jobs at risk.

Holliday carried out the fraud over a three month period while working for W Denis Financial Services

She joined the firm, which employs eight staff, as an administrator and was then was given training to become a financial adviser, earning £35,000 a year.

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The offending came to light after Holliday suddenly quit her job in 2017.

Mr Moore said insurance firms rang the company asking for premiums to be paid.

An investigation was carried out and the Financial Conduct Authority was informed.

It was revealed that sums had been paid into Holliday's personal bank account.

The defendant had deleted e-mails in a bid to cover her tracks.

The total value of the offending was £10,585.

Mr Moore said the future of the firm was put in jeopardy by the deception due to the damage caused to the company's reputation.

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The firm also came close to losing its professional indemnity insurance.

Holliday had moved away from Leeds by the time the offending came to light.

After she was traced she made full admissions about what she had done.

Holliday, now of Harding Way, Cambridge, pleaded guilty to fraud.

Probation officer Gohar Khan told the court that Holliday had graduated from Manchester University with a degree in biology and psychology before joining the company in 2006.

The court heard the defendant now ran a catering business with her partner, supplying food to corporate events.

David Hewitt, mitigating, said Holliday committed the offences after building up debts of around £15,000.

He said her financial woes had been made worse when she resorted to pay day loans and gambling.

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Mr Hewitt said the offending occurred when she was suffering with depression and had turned to alcohol.

He added: "She is thoroughly disgusted and disappointed with her actions at the time."

Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said the offending was too serious to impose anything other than an immediate prison sentence.

She was jailed for six months.

Judge Bayliss said: "This was a very serious abuse of trust which you, aged 35, a graduate with qualifications in financial services would have fully understood to be an abuse of trust.

"This wasn't opportunistic. You knew what you were doing.

"You did it more than once. You did it several times over three months.

"You had been working for your employer for many years.

"Your employer trained you, your employer gave you a post as an independent financial adviser.

"It could have meant the loss of jobs for your fellow employees.

"Your activities had a serious detrimental affect on the company."

W Denis Financial Services Ltd is of no relation to W Denis Insurance Brokers Plc .