A Lincolnshire bank manager stole almost quarter of a million pounds from her branch to pay off a blackmailer, Lincoln Crown Court was told.
Alison Todd carried out the thefts in just four months after being approached by the blackmailer who was making threats against another person.
Todd initially handed over £5,000 cash to the man but he kept coming back for more and she simply stole more and more money to pay him off.
Lincoln Crown Court was told that Todd took money from the ATMs and also from cash held within the bank at the Cornmarket branch of the Halifax in Louth.
Christopher Geeson, prosecuting, said Todd stole £105,000 from the cash machines together with £92,000 from cash held within the bank. She also transferred £37,000 out of bank accounts which she converted into cash.
Mr Geeson said: “These were not the most complex of thefts. They were highly likely to be found to be thefts committed by her.
“She was working at the Halifax Bank in Louth. She was the manager of that branch. That is why she was given a lot of leeway as far as dealing with money.
“She was responsible for accounting for the ATM machines, for putting the money in and for making sure the figures were recorded.
“It was discovered there was a deficit. She was taking money from the ATM machines. She forged signatures. She had left the system in such a way that it was clear how much money had been taken by her. She had done nothing to cover up and discovery was inevitable.
“£92,000 was taken from a tin which was locked with a key that only she had and no-one else had. No-one else could have committed that theft.”
“The third matter relates to the theft from non-personal accounts. There were four transactions within two minutes all for cash with a total of £36,999.64. They were noticed easily.”
Mr Geeson said that when Todd was interviewed she initially denied any involvement in the thefts but later confessed.
“She admitted stealing the money and she gave the reason saying she was being blackmailed and threats were being made if she did not pay the person who was blackmailing her. She gave details of how she paid that money over.
“There is no evidence of her living a luxurious lifestyle or anything of that sort.”
Alison Todd, 54, of Tyler Avenue, Grimsby, admitted three charges of theft of a total of £234,000 belonging to the Lloyds Banking Group, the owners of the Halifax Bank, between April 1 and August 1, 2016.
She was given a two year jail sentence suspended for two years.
A hearing will take place at a later date to consider confiscation of her assets to repay the bank.
Recorder Gareth Evans QC, passing sentence, said: “During the course of your employment as a bank manager the total amount of money that you stole was £234,000.
“The reason why you stole it, were it not for your explanation, would be a mystery. You are a lady of good character in a stable relationship and there is no evidence you used that money to purchase goods, holidays or assets. You gave the explanation that you were paying a blackmailer.
“This was a gross breach of trust but it was amateurish. It was inevitable that you would be discovered.
“I have to sentence you not as a person who plundered her employer’s finances for her own benefit but as a person put in a position where you thought there was no alternative other than to take that money.
“The second most powerful mitigation is that I am told you will have the £234,000 taken out of your pension fund. If that is right then the bank will have lost nothing.
“Anybody who steals this sort of money from their employer invariably goes to prison. I am prepared to suspend the sentence for the reasons that the bank would not appear to have suffered any loss and because you did not steal for your own benefit. You stole to protect somebody else from blackmail.”
Mark Watson, in mitigation, said “She was working in the banking industry for 35 years joining the Halifax straight from school.
“She became a manager in 2011 so had made her way through the ranks.
“For years and years she worked with an unblemished record then all of a sudden in 2016 this offending began. This was unsophisticated and always bound to come back to her.
“She was initially asked for £5,000. She provided that money and the person came back for more. It would be handed over in cash. She was being asked for more and more.
“This has devastated her and her family. Since proceedings started she has barely left her home out of the shame and embarrassment she feels.”
Mr Watson said that the bank could be compensated from money within Todd’s pension fund and she has co-operated with police since her arrest.