Thieving manager blamed for job losses

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Sixty people lost their jobs at a Yorkshire catering firm after it’s debt-ridden operations manager stole almost £50,000.

Former Brighouse woman Caroline Ashford, 48, was yesterday jailed for 20 months after a judge heard about the devastating effect of her offending on the fortunes of Shaw and Lisle in Huddersfield.

Recorder Robins Mairs was told the business, which supplies sandwiches to the NHS, had gone from being a company making money to one “struggling to survive” as a result of Ashford’s crimes.

In a victim impact statement company director Simon Shaw said he felt betrayed by Ashford and said 60 people had lost their jobs.

He said the chances of recovering the lost money were low and there was no guarantee the business would survive.

Prosecutor Martin Sharpe told Bradford Crown Court how Ashford started working for the company in June 2007 as a human resources manager and was promoted to operations manager with responsibility for the wages of the entire firm.

Between March 2009 and November 2010 Ashford, formerly of Ashlea Close, Brighouse, used the identities of former employees to enable “wages” to be paid into the various bank accounts.

The offending came to light after some of the ex-workers started receiving letters from the Inland Revenue about unpaid tax. They contacted the firm’s directors after Ashford’s claims it would be sorted out proved false.

Ashford’s lawyer Mark Brookes revealed the mother of two had built up credit cards debts and mortgage arrears following the breakdown of her marriage.

“The fatal mistake, on reflection, was a desire to maintain a standard of living and protect the children’s standard of living,” said Mr Brookes.

He said by the time Ashford started working at Shaw and Lisle the house had been repossessed, but she still had debts of over £100,000. Ashford had admitted nine charges of fraud and one allegation of false accounting.