University of Leeds employee forged signatures to obtain almost £6,000 to pay drug dealers

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A personal assistant who forged signatures in order to steal almost £6,000 from the University of Leeds has been jailed.

Sarah Simpson admitted to abusing her position in order to obtain money pay off a debt to drug dealers.

Leeds Crown Court

Leeds Crown Court

The 40-year-old carried out the offending while working at the university's Institute for Medical Education.

Leeds Crown Court heard Simpson began working for the department in 2012 and her responsibilities included dealing with petty cash.

Jessica Randell said Simpson would require a signature from her boss to take money out of petty cash.

Throughout 2018 Simpson made repeated requests for signatures to obtain cash.

The requests began to be queried as they often exceed the limit of £115.

An investigation was launched when it emerged that the department's petty cash was having to be replenished more often then any other department within the university.

Miss Randell said it was revealed that Simpson had forged signatures on 49 occasions to obtain £5,934 over a period of ten months.

Simpson, of The Larches, Swarcliffe, Leeds, was suspended from work and admitted responsibility for the deception when interviewed..

She said she took the money after being left in debt when she split up with her partner.

Simpson said her former partner had built up a drug debt and people kept turning up at her home demanding money.

She pleaded guilty to fraud.

Probation officer Michael Clark said: "She is extremely ashamed of this offence."

Joanne Shepherd, mitigating, said Simpson had a 20-week old baby.

She said the offence was committed after she came out of an abusive relationship.

Miss Shepherd added: "He was in debt with dealers and he left her considerable debt."

Simpson was sent to prison for 12 weeks.

Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said: "Those who steal from their employers, as you stole from your employer, must understand that a breach of trust of this nature will result in individuals going to prison.

"I'm afraid you must go to prison."