Essex conwoman spared jail

A THRILLSEEKING Essex conwoman, who had been on the run for three years, has been spared jailed after admitting 35 offences.

Colin Adwent

A THRILLSEEKING Essex conwoman, who had been on the run for three years, has been spared jailed after admitting 35 offences.

Karen Pritchard, formerly of Marine Parade, Harwich, was yesterday given a total of 12 months in jail, suspended for two years, for eight counts of obtaining property by deception and for failing to surrender to custody.

The 42-year-old recovering cocaine addict and alcoholic had also asked to take 27 other offences into consideration when she pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court last month.

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During her time as a fugitive Pritchard tried to cover her tracks by using false names and constantly moving around the east of England.

At her sentencing yesterday, prosecutor Joanne Eley said the value of Pritchard's crimes came to �12,025.99.

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The court was told the mother of two teenage boys got a business loan for �10,540 from HSBC in March 2004 for a car wash business.

She put the money into a bank account and then effectively emptied it so that by May 4, 2004 it was �419 overdrawn. Pritchard did so by writing out cheques made out to the business.

She had purchased mainly luxury items, even when she had insufficient funds in any of her bank accounts.

Various property was seized and identified after police searched her home and arrested her.

One of the deception offences related to a hotel invoice for accommodation and bottles of champagne she drank during her stay.

The court heard Pritchard had previous convictions including one in November 2003 relating to four deceptions on July 4 that year involving a dry cleaner's and buying items, including alcohol, from a supermarket in Newmarket using a stolen credit card.

Pritchard was given a two-year conditional discharge for those offences.

Her next appearance was at Cambridge Crown Court on December 4 last year for dishonesty offences in November 2004.

On that occasion Pritchard was in a Newmarket hotel when she stole the key for a locker while someone was in the swimming pool.

She opened the locker and took �200 in cash and credit cards, before going shopping with them in Cambridge.

Pritchard, who now lives in Romford and works part-time at a bar and restaurant in Epping, was arrested in September 2004 for the deception charges she was sentenced for yesterday.

However, she went on the run before she was due to appear before Ipswich magistrates in July 2005.

Lara Maroof, mitigating, said her client had struggled with her drug and alcohol addictions around the time of her latest offences. Pritchard's marriage had subsequently broken down, she added.

Recorder Martyn Levett said a pre-sentence report showed Pritchard was a risk-taker and thrillseeker when she committed the offences.

In addition to the suspended sentence Pritchard was also given a supervision order.

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