A Bagshot woman was sentenced to 20 months in prison on Friday (18 December) for three counts of fraud by abuse of position, totalling over £216,000.
Simmone Laval, of Green Lane, Bagshot, was convicted on Tuesday, 8 December following a 12 day trial at Guildford Crown Court. She had pleaded guilty to possession of a CS gas canister at an earlier hearing, for which she received no additional penalty.
The court heard that Laval had been employed by Kerry Commercial Services Ltd, and subsequently by Peach Coatings Ltd, as a finance manager. She diverted company money to herself via her mother’s account in the form of cheques and electronic bank transfers, concealing the payments on the company accounting system as payments to sub-contractors or the Directors’ Loan Accounts. In 2010 alone, she stole over £48,000 of company money.
Kerry Commercial Services went into liquidation in early 2012, but Laval was taken back on under the new company. She continued to steal until the directors and general manager began an investigation due to the company beginning to fail in late 2013. They found payments to an unknown party, who turned out to be Laval’s mother. Laval was arrested by Surrey Police on 5 November 2013 and charged after a year-long investigation. Two payments in particular were noted during the court case, including £360 that Laval stole from Kerry Commercial Services in its final days prior to liquidation, and £3,000 that should have been repaid to a friend’s widow after he made a personal loan to the company to try and keep it afloat.
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Clare Nettleton, said: “Laval had the complete trust of the directors and took advantage of that. When he sentenced her, the judge said that when they employed her in 2005, they did not know they were “taking a viper into their nest” and that Laval stole this money with no regard for the directors and their family, or the families of the staff who were made redundant when the company went into liquidation. He described it as a “cunning and manipulative fraud”, for which she had shown no remorse or regard for others.”
DS Nettleton added: “A huge amount of time and effort went into this investigation and although it cannot repay the hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of money she has stolen over the years, Laval will have to face the consequences of her actions whilst serving her time in prison and hopefully this will bring some small comfort to those she has defrauded.”