Woman jailed for £239,000 theft from printing firm

Sarah Cockburn stole the cash while working for James McVicar Printers as an accounts manager between 2013 and 2019.

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A woman who embezzled more than £239,000 from a printing company – almost causing the business to go bust – has been jailed for 22 months.

Sarah Cockburn stole the cash while working for James McVicar Printers as an accounts manager between January 2013 and July 2019.

Cockburn, 33, used the company’s systems to make 799 payments totalling £239,207.28 to bank accounts in her name.

The fraud was unearthed after the company accounts were investigated following an outstanding £28,000 bill with British Gas.

Cockburn had already left the company in July 2019 before the investigation took place.

Cockburn, a first offender, pleaded guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to embezzlement.

On Monday, sheriff Andrew Cubie told her that her actions were “motivated by selfishness” as he sent her to jail.

He added: “I accept this was a calculated offence which involved planning.

“Only a period of imprisonment can reflect this behaviour going on over the time scale,  the trust involved and cost to the firm from your actions.”

The original sum was believed to have been £159,000 but on further investigation the amount was “far higher.”

Prosecutor Claire Wallace said: “She manipulated financial systems of the company which involved the creation of false payments.

“The accused would divert the money to her two personal bank accounts.

“She held a third bank account where her salary was paid.”

The court heard that the printing company had to make significant business changes to remain “a going concern.”

The company had to sell its largest printing press and the owner invested £70,000 from his private pension and premium bonds.

He also had to release £60,000 in capital from another company owned by him.

Ms Wallace added: “The company made a loss and couldn’t afford to give pay rises to staff.

“Five people left because of this and they couldn’t afford to replace them.”

The ordeal caused “stress and anxiety” for the owner who is on medication.

Defence lawyer Ross Yuill told the court that Cockburn, of Glasgow’s Garthamlock, had “quite a lot of control” over what was happening in the company.

He added: “If that made it easier to carry out this scheme, it isn’t clear.

“But, it could have had an impact on the overall ability to take such a significant amount of money.”