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Letting agent stole £14,000 paid by tenants in the Newmarket area

PUBLISHED: 12:34 10 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:55 10 March 2017

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Archant

A 51-year-old mother-of-two who stole more than £14,000 from her former employer over a period of six years has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send her straight to prison.

Julie Feilden, who worked for what was Smiths Gore Letting Agency in Newmarket, pocketed money she had collected as deposits from tenants, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Feilden, 51, of Ness Road, Burwell, Cambridgeshire pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to 13 charges of theft by employee between March 2010 to May 2016.

Sentencing her to a six month prison sentence suspended for 12 months Judge John Devaux said he had been told Feilden was sorry for what she had done but he felt this was because of the position she now found herself in.

In addition to the suspended prison sentence he ordered Feilden to do 120 hours unpaid work in the community and made her the subject of a 20 day rehabilitation activity requirement.

He also ordered her to pay £1,250 costs.

Cathy McCulloch, prosecuting, told the court that Feilden had been employed as a lettings administrator and was responsible for collecting deposits from a number of tenants.

The money was then supposed to be placed in a tenant deposit scheme.

On occasions cash was accepted, but it had to be logged and put in the stationery store under lock and key.

Feilden had the keys to the store and part of her job was to bank the money and do the paperwork for the deposits.

The court heard that in 2015 there were redundancies which included Feilden’s role. At the end of 2015 the business was sold to Savills.

Despite being made redundant Feilden asked if she could take the books home to get them up-to-date.

Miss McCulloch said it took several months to retrieve the books from her and it was then the thefts were discovered.

When Feilden, who has no previous convictions, was interviewed by police she made full admissions, the court was told.

Feilden, who represented herself, told the court she was “very sorry” for what she had done.

She also said she was “embarrassed and ashamed”.

A spokesman for Savills said: “Savills can confirm that Julie Fielden was an employee of Smiths Gore, based in its Newmarket high street office from 2010-2015 when these offences took place.

“Smiths Gore was subsequently acquired by Savills. No clients suffered a loss as a consequence.”

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