HP worker stole £40,000 to pay back student debts
AN EMPLOYEE who racked up thousands of pounds of debt used her position to steal more than £40,000 from Hewlett Packard (HP).
Niamh Spelman, 32, of Islington Road, Southville, wrote cheques to herself and banked them between 2004 and February 2008, Bristol Crown Court heard.
Prosecuting, Robert Welch told the court Spelman started working for ExcellerateHRO in 2001, which was later taken over by computer giants HP.
In her job, Spelman was allowed to write cheques to pay dividends to shareholders, but was not a signatory so was supposed to get every cheque authorised.
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In February last year, HP did an audit that revealed 11 cheques had been written and paid into Spelman's account without authority.
The total value was £41,920, Mr Welch told the court.
When Spelman was asked about the theft allegations she admitted everything. Mitigating, Catherine Spedding said Spelman, who was originally from Ireland, had a "troubled background".
Her mother died when she was 10, she had a difficult relationship with her father and started to drink alcohol at an early age.
Spelman came to England and a got a degree and postgraduate qualification, which she funded herself, putting herself in debt.
During the time of her offending, Ms Spedding said she was drinking alcohol every day and had only intended to steal one cheque.
Since the crimes she has been trying to address her drink problem – not having drunk any alcohol since 2008 – and now has a new job as a human resources advisor with another company.
Judge David Ticehurst spared Spelman from immediate prison as she is in employment and he said she would be more use to society in work paying taxes and national insurance, than in prison.
He gave her credit for her guilty plea and sentenced her to a year in prison, suspended for two years.
He ordered a supervision element and said Spelman should continue to get treated for alcoholism.