Abergavenny Garden Centre fraudster ordered to pay back £9k of £32k stolen

A jailed garden centre office manager branded a “callous” fraudster who swindled her employer out of £32,000 was ordered to pay back her old boss just over £9,000.

Zena Price was imprisoned for 15 months in April after Cardiff Crown Court heard she abused her position as the “financial mind” of Abergavenny Garden Centre to fleece the company which was left “devastated” a result.

At a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing held at Cardiff Crown Court, prosecutor James Evans said the available assets after the scam was £9,324.41 in the form of a BMW car and cash in a bank account.

Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke made a confiscation order and said the amount would be paid to the victim. Owen Williams, representing Price, who appeared in court via video link from Eastwood Park Prison, asked that three months be given for the assets to be transferred.

At her sentencing two months ago, the court was told that single mother, 37, of Penylan Road, Pontypool, was put in charge of online banking, payroll and the payment of suppliers at the small business in April 2014.

Prosecutor Nuhu Gobir said Price would syphon off money to her own bank by creating false supplier accounts and invoices and making double wage payments between December 2015 and September 2017.

Her crimes only came to light when she had to go into hospital after suffering back problems.

Mr Gobir said the company’s managing director and owner Ian McDonald was horrified to discover what was going on when he took over its finances while she was off sick.

She admitted after being arrested that she had started to con her boss when she fell into debt, owing £2,000 after racking it up on credit through catalogue shopping.

Price admitted fraud by abuse of position at a previous hearing.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr McDonald revealed how Price had been “a trusted member of staff”. He said: “I completely relied upon her and trusted her. She worked without much supervision and I feel personally devastated. This has devastated us as a business.”

“I think she is extremely callous and heartless.”

Mr Williams, mitigating for Price, who had no previous convictions, said she was a “caring mother” to a seven-year-old daughter.

He added she had tendered an early guilty plea and made full admissions to detectives.

Judge Tom Crowther QC jailed her for 15 months.

* Following the sentencing of Price, the Argus ran a story on a woman by the same name, but who works in Pontypool and lives Abergavenny, after she was accused of being the fraudster in a bizarre case of mistaken identity.

 

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