9:51am Tuesday 1st October 2013
A POSTMISTRESS must pay back more than £29,000 to the Post Office after stealing money over a period of eight years.
Janine Lemmon, 50, of West Avenue, Hengoed, carried out the long-running theft while running Maesycwmmer Post Office.
At Newport Crown Court in June she escaped going to prison, a two-year sentence instead being suspended for two years, and she was also ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work inside the first 12 months.
But at a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing at the same court yesterday, Judge Rhys Rowlands issued a confiscation order for Lemmon to repay £29,084.93p within six months. She was also ordered to pay £750 towards prosecution costs, also inside six months.
At the June hearing Lemmon had pleaded guilty to one count of theft by employee and one count of furnishing false information relating to accounts.
An audit was to have been conducted at Maesycwmmer Post Office on January 3 this year, and prosecutor Heath Edwards said Lemmon, who had been postmistress for around ten years, knew her stealing was about to be discovered.
But, he told the court, “it came to light not because she volunteered the information, but because the auditor came to the post office to check”.
Lemmon had run up significant debts since separating from her previous partner in 2005, and the stolen money went towards her mortgage, personal income, utility bills and helping pay for her weekly shopping. At times she had also paid the post office staff with post office cash.
No records were kept and Lemmon told no-one, including her husband and son, that she had been taking money.
Defending Lemmon, Jane Rowley told the court she had had to contend with ill-health and financial hardship, but recognised that not everyone in such positions stole from their employer.
She had been relieved when the auditor came, embarrassed by her behaviour, and full of remorse for what she had done.
Lemmon has put her house up for sale in order to raise the money to pay back what she took.
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