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Clacton: GP surgery manager used false invoices to steal nearly £54,000 to fund bingo habit

PUBLISHED: 18:09 06 August 2014 | UPDATED: 18:09 06 August 2014

Fraudster April Piercy

Fraudster April Piercy

A GP surgery manager who stole almost £54,000 from the practice where she worked has been jailed.

April Piercy worked at the Great Clacton Medical Partnership from 2001.

But for the last three years she used false invoices for locum doctors to supplement her £66,000 annual salary and fund a gambling addiction.

She stole a total of £53,850.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard today how Piercy, 45, spent £140 per day on bingo, playing both live and online games.

Sacha Bailey, prosecuting, told the court of the impact on the practice which had already been in financial difficulties.

She read a personal impact statement from Dr Ildiko Spelt, a partner at the surgery, outlining how she was still struggling to deal with the situation, and which said: “I relied 100% on April to run the practice so I could focus on my patients.”

Evelyn Hicks, mitigating, said Piercy had become depressed after the death of her parents in the early 2000s and was often burdened by the troubles of colleagues who would confide in her.

She said Piercy owed a lot of money, including mortgage arrears meaning her house was about to be repossessed, and the total amount of debt was estimated to be double what she had stolen.

Mrs Hicks said: “She played bingo five times per week and that became her lifestyle.

“The practice was in dire financial difficulties. She has added to it, she has not caused it.”

She added that Piercy, of Litchfield Close, Clacton, was now living on benefits.

Sentencing this afternoon Judge David Turner QC gave Piercy 14 months in prison for fraud by abuse of a position of trust.

Judge Turner said: “This is a tragic day for you. The fact is you have derailed your life, and the sad reality is you have made extremely bad choices for an intelligent person.

“You were someone who was completely trusted, looked at as having commitment and energy, and were paid a decent salary.

“You were not as perhaps well supported personally, and you sought solace in what became an addiction to gambling.

“It rather took over your life and you wasted much of the monies which you were stealing.

“By raising the bogus invoices you covered your tracks conciously and deliberately and knowing with every one you sent out you were doing something wrong.

“Your conduct was protracted but out of character. I don’t doubt it has left you stressed, depressed and ashamed, and added to the difficulties you have with isolation.

“I hope you manage to survive this sentence and put this tragic and shameful incident behind you, and with the help of your friends pick up your life.”

No order was made for compensation as a separate Proceeds of Crime Act hearing is scheduled for next month.

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