A 73-year-old bookkeeper who was hired by a rare wine dealer after it was plundered by another employee has been jailed after stealing more than £800,000 from the company.
Patricia Mann was hired by Vintage Wines Ltd, which supplies and stores rare bottles for wealthy clients, to sort out a financial mess left by a previous worker who had defrauded the firm.
But Mann used her position at the company in Nottingham to funnel hundreds of thousands of pounds into her own account.
Owner Terry Rockley told a court: ‘Patricia Mann did not just copy a terrible crime she had been entrusted to sort out, but it escalated it to an astonishing level.’
Last October thieves spent two days tunnelling into the cellar of the shop and stole £250,000 of stock – but left behind a priceless bottle once owned by Whitney Houston.
Patricia Mann was hired by Vintage Wines Ltd, which supplies and stores rare bottles for wealthy clients, to sort out a financial mess left by a previous employer – but took the opportunity to steal more money
Last October, thieves carried out the raids of the ‘prized cellar’ over two days. The first incident happened on October 17 when staff found two people in the cellar (pictured) who posed as new tenants from a neighbouring building
In 2016 Mann told her boss Terry Rockley that the company was having cash flow problems and in 2018 again warned the firm had a ‘substantial deficit’ in cash flow, Nottingham Crown Court heard.
It was discovered that Mann, who had worked for the firm since 2004, had been paying cash from the business account into her own bank.
She admitted stealing £50,000 and offered to pay it back but an investigation revealed the actual figure she took was £801,000.
Mann, from Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, admitted fraud and was jailed for three years and nine months last week.
Mr Rockley, who owns Vintage Wines Ltd, said: ‘Patricia Mann did not just copy a terrible crime, she had been entrusted to sort out, but it escalated it to an astonishing level with no regard for myself, the company or the staff who trusted her.
‘She ended up funding family members and benefitted greatly from the proceeds of crime.
‘Hopefully now, at long last, after more than two years of investigation work and this sentence, some justice can be delivered.’
Mr Rockley was forced to sell his own personal property and cash in his pension to save the business from going bankrupt.
In the theft last year, the thieves escaped by the time police arrived to the scene and staff realised a number of bottles were missing. They gained entry by forcing their way through fire doors (pictured)
Detective Constable Chris Underwood, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: ‘When Mann was hired she seemed the ideal replacement.
‘She fitted in well with the company and her attitude towards running the company was described as ‘second to none’.
‘She had full control of the company finances, including wages, banking and cash flow forecasts.
‘In 2016 the company started to show a downturn in cash flow. Mann told the victim that she had no idea why this happened and agreed that the company might well shut.
‘This would have clearly been ideal for Mann as it would have covered her tracks. The victim employed new accountants to identify any issues.
‘It was found that she was paying herself directly unauthorised amounts of money from the business account into her own bank account.
‘Mann stole directly from the company who had held her in high esteem and she knew she was wrong in doing this.
‘Greed just took over her.
‘Her actions caused a huge amount of stress to not only the victim but that of other employees as they feared for losing their jobs and livelihood.’
Last year, two men were jailed after targeting the store in a series of raids. Between October 17 and 23, they attempted to carry out three burglaries, making off with some £250,000 of stock.