December 6, 2018 3.25 pm This story is over 58 months old

Assets stripped from thief with ‘compulsive buying disorder’

She went on a spending spree with her employers’ cash

A company finance worker who went on a spending spree using her employers’ cash today (Thurs) had her available assets confiscated following a hearing at Lincoln Crown Court.

Claire Johnston, 34, who was diagnosed with a “compulsive buying disorder”, went on luxury holidays and bought designer shoes as well as treating her friends to expensive presents, paying for her lavish lifestyle with money she siphoned from her employer.

She was jailed for 20 months earlier this year.

Today she appeared before Lincoln Crown Court via video link from Peterborough Prison where she is serving her sentence.

She was ordered to hand over her available assets of £14,551.55p including her pension fund money, a car, a Tiffany ring and two watches.

Judge John Pini QC ruled that Johnston’s benefit from crime was £143,732.85p. He ordered that her available assets should be confiscated and given to her former employer, the Grantham-based BGB Engineering Ltd, as compensation.

Johnston was given three months to pay or face a further eight months in jail.

Johnston, 34, of Bradley Drive, Grantham, admitted fraud between September 9, 2014 and February 22, 2018. She was jailed in October for 20 months.

The court was told at her sentencing hearing that she used the company’s money to pay for two holidays in Las Vegas and her wedding in Mexico.

Johnston also spent £5,000 on a weekend in London and bought shoes by designer labels such as Valentino and Christian Louboutin.

Mark Watson, prosecuting, said the fraud was discovered when she took time off work.

“The defendant was in a position of trust. She was responsible for day to day financial transactions.

“She would take invoices from companies and alter them to reflect her own bank details. She then processed funds into her account. It appeared she was paying suppliers.

“This was sophisticated. She siphoned the money into her own accounts. It was not discovered for a substantial period of time.”

Jonathan Straw, in mitigation, said: “The psychologist describes her as having a compulsive buying disorder getting a buzz after buying items and enjoying treating people.

“This wasn’t purely motivated by a sense of greed. This was in many ways a young lady with all sorts of issues who thought somehow that she was endearing herself to others with lavish gifts. Clearly there was also a significant element where she was buying goods on her own behalf.

“What started as an incremental opportunity to take money sadly developed into a regular series of thefts and she became used to the benefits that her offending brought.”

He added that she has health problems having suffered a stroke in 2016 and has also undergone heart surgery.