Aardman Animations PA stole out of Bristol company's finances
AN Aardman Animations worker has admitted stealing thousands of pounds from the film and TV firm.
Personal assistant Sarah Folan used a company credit card to spend around £5,000 before her boss noticed something was wrong and the 30-year-old was caught.
Folan, of Stackpool Road in Southville, admitted two charges of fraud by abuse of position at Bristol Magistrates' Court yesterday.
The court heard Folan was the personal assistant to Heather Wright, the head of commercials and branded content at the company behind characters including Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep.
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Cash withdrawn on the card was used to try and sort out "sensitive" financial problems her parents were having, the court was told, although details were not disclosed.
But the spending was soon noticed and Folan was hauled in front of a disciplinary hearing, where she admitted abusing company funds.
Police were then called in.
Prosecuting, Laura Opie said Ms Wright became suspicious after Folan had been working for her for about eight months.
"Ms Wright had some concerns about some unusual cash withdrawals," said Ms Opie. "When she asked the defendant about it, she admitted she had withdrawn them for personal usage."
Further admissions came at a disciplinary proceeding, the court heard, where Folan told bosses she had taken the money due to financial problems.
Ms Opie added: "She had been doing it to finance problems her parents had been having."
After the offences took place the money was eventually "clawed back" through Folan's salary and the company's insurance.
Magistrates were told that the charges related to the withdrawal of a total of £3,855.60 in cash and making "personal purchases" from online retailers totalling £1,167.35 between August 1 and November 20 last year.
Folan contested the total given for online purchases, claiming that the real figure was £737.81.
Magistrates ruled that a change to the amount was not important to the overall outcome of the case.
Defending Folan, Judy Hampton told the court: "There were difficult family details.
"They were of a sensitive matter.
"When she acknowledged she had done something wrong, she started paying the money back."
Ms Hampton asked for the case to be adjourned for Folan to be assessed by probation services, so a report can be prepared to advise magistrates on the best way to punish her.
Presiding magistrate Michael Loughlin adjourned sentencing for the reports to be prepared.
Folan was released on unconditional bail and told to return to the court later this month for sentencing.
But her sentence was deferred by magistrates who asked for more information on Folan to be prepared by probation services.