September 27th, 2016

Secretary who stole £80k from union Unison escapes jail

Secretary who stole £80k from union Unison escapes jail Secretary who stole £80k from union Unison escapes jail
Elizabeth Healey

AN official of the public service union Unison’s Coventry branch has escaped being jailed after stealing more than £80,000 of its funds to pay off her on-line gambling debts.

Disgraced branch secretary Elizabeth Healey’s dishonesty had come to light when she confessed to the branch’s treasurer.

At Warwick Crown Court earlier this year Healey (61) of Old Church Road, Foleshill, Coventry, at the time, pleaded guilty to stealing £83,970 from Unison between June 2013 and August 2014.

Following psychiatric and pre-sentence reports, Healey was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for two years, with supervision for the whole period.

Compensation will be discussed at a later hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Prosecutor Ian Windridge said that as secretary of the branch, Healey had access to its bank account and bank card.

In August 2014 she disclosed to another official that she had been gambling, and had ‘done something bad.’

She suggested at that time she had taken around just £8,000.

Healey was so distressed that her union colleague referred her to the mental health crisis team.

An enquiry revealed that true amount paid to a company called Aragon, a Malta-based on-line gambling firm.

Mr Windridge commented that, in the sale of her house, Healey had greater equity than the amount she stole, and the proceeds of the sale had been restrained by police financial investigators.

The court heard it was expected Unison will eventually get its money back in full from Healey, who has since been living at her brother’s home.

Jane Sarginson, defending, referred to a report from Dr Tom Clark, who concluded Healey had a mental disorder which led to her committing the offences.

Having read the report, Recorder Richard Benson QC responded: “I do intent to pass a suspended sentence order.”

He told Healey: “You were a lady of good character, but for that 14-month period this gambling bug got the better of you; and I understand why, because I’ve read what the doctor said about it.

“Tragically it has meant you have had to sell your home, and I take that very much into account.

“You are a woman of mature years, and it’s going to take you a while to get over all of this, and you will require a good deal of support.

“That does not, of course, mean to say that you have not committed a very serious breach of trust, because you had a very senior position within the union’s organisation, and you abused that for quite a long time.

“But although it was a substantial breach of trust, there were medical reasons for you behaving in that way.”

“Tragically it has meant you have had to sell your home, and I take that very much into account.

“You are a woman of mature years, and it’s going to take you a while to get over all of this, and you will require a good deal of support.

“That does not, of course, mean to say that you have not committed a very serious breach of trust, because you had a very senior position within the union’s organisation, and you abused that for quite a long time.

“But although it was a substantial breach of trust, there were medical reasons for you behaving in that way.”

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