Former worker at Northamptonshire hotel given suspended prison sentence for £11,300 fraud

Fawsley Hall
Fawsley Hall

A former business development manager at a spa hotel in Northamptonshire, who pocketed a £9,000 wedding deposit, has avoided being sent to prison.

Jayne Harper, age 55, of Main Street, Holcot, appeared at Northampton Crown Court after she pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud, which led to a loss of £11,300 to Fawsley Hall.

The court heard Harper received a £9,000 deposit for a wedding after she told the couple the only way they could secure the date was by paying the money into her account.

Steven Coupland, prosecuting, said Harper told the couple not to tell anyone at Fawsley Hall they had paid the money to her.

Harper’s fraud was uncovered after the couple began to have doubts about the lack of paperwork they had received about their wedding booking.

Mr Coupland said Harper was suspended from work but initially persuaded the couple not to go to the police as she said she would pay double the amount of money back to them. However, this proved to be lies.

The court heard that Harper did eventually pay back the £9,000 but it is believed to have come from Harper’s father.

The second fraud related to a £3,230 quantity of wine and champagne that Harper paid for with a personal cheque, which then bounced.

The wine company then chased Harper for the payment, and she came up with a variety of excuses as to why it had not been paid.

The offences took place between November 2011 and April 2012 when Harper was employed as a business development manager at Fawsley Hall.

The court heard analysis of Harper’s bank statements revealed she had made regular bets on gambling and bingo sites.

The court heard Harper had failed to declare on her job application to Fawsley Hall that she had served a four-and-a-half year jail sentence for fraud in 2003 after she stole more than £1 million from her previous employers 02.

Claire Howell, mitigating, said her client had now paid back all the money that had been stolen from customers at Fawsley Hall.

Ms Howell said Harper had an addiction to gambling and a “desperate need to please others” which stemmed from traumatic events earlier in her life.

The court heard Harper now had a new job, and the owner of the business believed she had changed her behaviour.

Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking said Harper’s fraud was a “mean” offence as she had tricked a couple who were planning their wedding.

But Judge Lucking said it was to Harper’s credit that she had taken on a series of lowly paid roles after leaving Fawsley Hall and earned enough money to pay back the cash she had stolen.

Judge Lucking said she believed Harper was now at a “low risk” of reoffending.

Harper was sentenced to one year in jail suspended for two years. She must also complete 200 hours of unpaid work.