A Nigerian employee, Gabrielle Yinka Saunders, who works as a personal assistant in a City investment firm, conned the firm out of £17,000 to pay for her luxury wedding in a Georgian mansion and a honeymoon in the Seychelles. Yinka used her colleagues' company credit cards to splash out on the £10,000 ceremony at the prestigious venue Belair House in Dulwich, south London.
She also paid £600 for flowers, £270 on a new watch, £210 on a new outfit and £400 for the mobile phone she used to make all the wedding arrangements. Saunders was arrested by police at Heathrow Airport when she returned from the honeymoon.
The police investigation revealed she began the fraud just one day after getting the £40,000-a-year job with Insight Investments - despite having a conviction for a £34,000 fraud on her previous employers PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Judge Stephen Gullick who presided over the case decided not to send her to prison yesterday after hearing she had paid the money back and will start a teacher training course in September. Judge Gullick said:
“You have a singularly unimpressive record and you have already served a prison sentence some time ago. You did not disclose your previous dishonesty to your employers who were prepared to take you on as an administrative assistant on a good salary.
The fact is within days you were prepared to take advantage. You effectively defrauded others to the tune of £17,000, all of which has been paid back. That money was used to finance your wedding which took place in October last year and the subsequent honeymoon.
You have now started working in a completely different environment. I hope they will never place you in a position of trust with anything to do with money. These were serious offences but it appears you are turning your life around. If you continue to commit offences of dishonest of this nature you will eventually receive a very long sentence if imprisonment indeed.”
Saunders was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment suspended for two years with 200 hours unpaid work.
Sanders relocated to UK after graduating from Southampton University with a 2:1 in law in 2004 before starting training as a tax accountant with PWC. She forged taxi receipts to destinations across the country including Cardiff, Basingstoke and Milton Keynes at up to £250 a time, then signed them off by faking a colleague's signature.
She was jailed for six months at the Old Bailey in November 2007 for defrauding her employers of £34,916 between 15 December 2005 and 24 October 2006.
At the time of her sentence she was working at Grant Thornton chartered accountants in Moorgate as a £23,000-a-year secretary.
Then in 2011 she was spared jail for nine counts of credit card fraud on her neighbour. Saunders got her job with Insight Investments in central London in June last year and a day later charged a £5,272 bill to a colleague's credit card for the honeymoon with Trailfinders.
In September she used another colleague's card to pay £10,254 to Belair House, £268.20 to the jeweller Andrew Charles, £597 to PESH flowers, £208.44 to fashion store ASOS and £390 to EE T-mobile.
Prosecutor Roger Daniells-Smith explained: “She paid for a prestige wedding venue, she paid for the flowers, she paid for her honeymoon outfit and clothing.
“She paid for phone calls to make these arrangements and she paid for the gift of a watch.
“She paid for the honeymoon which was a first-class trip to Dubai and then on to the Seychelles. They were arrested at Heathrow when they returned to the UK and she made no comment in interview but it was clear from the evidence that she was solely responsible for these frauds.”
Saunders, of 146 Ruskin Park House, Champion Hill, Camberwell, south London, admitted seven counts of fraud totalling £16,990.