Wendy Horrocks, 38, stole from her new boss just months after she was spared jail over another workplace scam – but has walked free again because prison would ‘interfere’ with her family life
A mother of two who stole from her new boss just months after she was spared jail over another workplace scam has walked free again – claiming prison would be ‘an interference’ in her family life.
Accounts manager Wendy Horrocks, 38, of Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, had already been given a suspended prison sentence for using a company Paypal account at a phones store to buy designer handbags and clothes worth £22,500 between 2014 and 2016.
But just nine months later she got another book-keeping job at a water storage firm, run by businessman Mark Sidebottom, and used the same Paypal scam to buy 91 items worth £5,000.
Today Mr Sidebottom angrily branded Britain’s justice system an ‘absolute joke’ and called Horrocks a ‘thieving b***h’ as he warned other bosses not to offer her a job.
Horrocks was only caught after Mr Sidebottom’s wife Lucy checked their accounts at World Heat and Power Ltd in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, and noticed the items had been bought using company money.
When she was confronted Horrocks claimed the transactions were ‘errors’ but later said she carried out the fraud to fund a secret £40 a day cocaine habit.
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Horrocks admitted theft but was given 16 months suspended for two years after judge Paul Lawton said prison would have ‘consequences’ for her son, 12, who has an undisclosed illness.
He added that the ‘appropriate course’ would be to send her to prison, and that she stole from her new employer because she could not stop putting ‘cocaine up her nose’.
Horrocks had initially been a financial controller at Headsets 4 Business in Ashton-under-Lyne for four years and had been given responsibility for handling the firm’s PayPal account.
But between February 2014 and February 2016 she used the firm’s Paypal account to divert company funds into two personal bank accounts and bought a Michael Kors watch and handbags, as well as Ralph Lauren clothing.
In January 2017 Horrocks was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years but later got a job at Mr Sidebottom’s firm and used the firm’s Paypal account to get a further £7349.94 between September 2017 and August 2018.
Prosecutor Jane Dagnall: ‘While the defendant was on holiday in August Mark Sidebottom’s wife took over the accounts and realised the PayPal accounts couldn’t be reconciled. She informed her husband and suspicions were confirmed.
‘What she had done she had used the PayPal account to purchase nearly 91 parcels totalling just over £5000.
‘She also diverted money from wages to her own account totalling at around £2000.
‘On another occasion her employer had given her some cash to buy his wife a Pandora charm and she just kept the money.
She had already been given a suspended prison sentence for using a company Paypal account at a phones store to buy designer handbags and clothes worth £22,500
‘In interview she accepted that errors had been made but couldn’t explain them. But then she said her actions were because of her cocaine habit which at one point was £40 a day saying drugs had destroyed her life.
‘She said was embarrassed and didn’t want her family to know.
‘Lucy Sidebottom has said the whole incident had affected her as she looked upon Wendy Horrocks as a friend and they had a close relationship.
‘She said Wendy Horrocks even had the items delivered to work, including presents for her family and herself, and that she had no shame in showing her the goods which in essence Mr and Mrs Sidebottom had paid for.
‘Mr Sidebottom said they had felt betrayed by Wendy Horrocks as they trusted her. He said it was a family business and the workers feel like part of this family and this incident had raised suspicion.
‘He said although the company hadn’t been financially crippled, it had had a serious impact on the business and if it had gone on longer it would have been much worse.’
The court heard Horrocks had repaid the Sidebottoms £5,000.
Her lawyer, Neil Ronan, said Horrocks felt ‘genuine remorse and contrition’ as he said her children, 12 and 17, would ‘suffer’ if she went to prison.
He said: ‘Efforts have been made by this defendant to pay the money back from savings and borrowed money from family and friends, effectively a loan, She feels genuine remorse and contrition.
‘The real matter to be wrestled with is whether or not to send her to prison and the effect that would have on the family her sons are 12 and 17 and her youngest son is currently having a series of medical tests.
‘She had been sticking her head in the sand due to her addiction. Her husband didn’t know and he was utterly flabbergasted.
‘She was addicted to cocaine and hadn’t received support or wished to tell her husband as foolishly she didn’t think she would get help because they have always said together how disgusting drug use is.
‘She felt that telling him would lead to the breakdown of the family home.
‘Within the last two weeks having come clean to him he is supporting her and researching people who can help.
‘All the things she was terrified of he hasn’t been – she didn’t give him enough credit for how much he loves her.
‘She has been clean now for 246 days given that she now has come clean to her family all of that has been put out in the open.
‘If custody has to follow there will be interference in the family life when there are in fact realistic prospects of rehabilitation.’
Sentencing Judge Paul Lawton told Horrocks: ‘It is quite unbelievable for someone to walk into a job as a book-keeper and not divulge a conviction and then repeat the behaviour.
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Horrocks admitted theft but was given 16 months suspended for two years after judge Paul Lawton said prison would have ‘consequences’ for her son, 12, who has an undisclosed illness
‘So you should regard it as amazing that you’re not going into custody for your stealing because of the consequences on your young son of 12 years old in his formative years.
‘If I took the appropriate course you would be going to prison. You are back for stealing from your subsequent employer all of this because you couldn’t stop putting cocaine up your nose.
‘The consequences are your choice, but I am not going to visit that on your young son.
‘If you put a foot wrong you will serve this sentence. I don’t want to see you again,’ he added.
Mr Sidebottom condemned the sentence on a community Facebook page, branding the system an ‘absolute joke’ for allowing Horrocks to avoid prison again.
‘What an absolute jokes the justice system in this country is, given she was doing what she was doing whilst serving a suspended sentence,’ he said.
‘She did not learn her lesson after the first time and we were lucky to catch her otherwise she would have kept rinsing us until we’d gone bust.
‘My dad and some of our mates vouched for her and her husband as they knew them through the local football team.
‘The fact that this scummy thieving b***h is still in Dukinfield and might be applying for accounts jobs with other small businesses without receiving any real punishment to deter her from stealing from them and without the public being aware p****s me off.
‘Keep your eyes out and look out for Wendy Horrocks who’s got away with fraud again and maybe looking for her next victim,’ he added.