Payroll boss jailed for helping herself to £90k

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A payroll manager who stole more than £90,000 from her company has been jailed for 21 months.

Michele Griffiths used the names of former employees at high-tech software firm Eckoh in Corner Hall, Hemel Hempstead to pay money into her own account.

Griffiths also paid £500 to her mother and £1,800 to friends who were going on holiday to Torquay with her and her husband.

Prosecutor Philip Misner told St Albans Crown Court on Friday that Griffiths “acted in a gross breach of trust” between October 2007 and May this year when she worked as the human resources payroll manager.

Her activities were uncovered by chance by the firm’s finance director Adam Maloney, who called in the police on May 28. When questioned, she said she was £20,000 in debt and had a big mortgage.

Asked about another payment that came to light after her arrest, she said she had been ‘annoyed’ that she had not got a bonus, said the prosecutor.

Griffiths had started at the company in 2005, becoming the manager the following year.

She had been dismissed from her previous job for altering her salary details. As a result, she received a police caution after admitting theft of around £1,000.

The total taken by Griffiths was £78,963 with £12,827 paid in tax and National Insurance for the fictitious workers.

Griffiths, 41, of Himley Green, Linslade, appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to six charges of false accounting and one of transferring criminal property.

Jailing her, Judge Stephen Warner told her: “It is clear from your background there is a dishonest streak in you, but I accept the money you diverted was not spent on high living. There is little prospect of it being repaid in the future.

“This case is a tragedy for everyone concerned, including your family.”