A mum who stole more than a million pounds from her Derbyshire employer was funding a gambling addiction. Between March 2012 and February 2021, Karen Brailsford took just over £1.4 million from Urban Design and Development Limited, sometimes by falsifying invoices, in part to fund her gambling impulses.
At its peak, Brailsford took £300,000 from the company in one year, and she had already taken £29,000 in 2021 before being caught that February. The court heard how the 53-year-old’s actions only came to light due to her desperation for money when she took funds in such an “obvious” way on one Friday afternoon, which led to her employer discovering her fraudulent activity.
Phillip Plant, prosecuting, said the defendant was spoken to by the company’s directors about the incident and Brailsford claimed her actions were an error. The directors were unsatisfied with her response, and Brailsford then confessed to what she had been doing, and that she had been stealing from them “for some time”.
Brailsford, who was firstly employed on a salary of £21,000, pleaded guilty at an early stage on August 12 this year to a single count of fraud by abuse of position and appeared at Derby Crown Court on September 22, 2022, for sentencing, where the court heard how she told police that she was desperate for the money, which was why she did it in such an obvious way.
Police found that Brailsford had spent £298,867.36 on gambling, she had also sent some of the money to her children, and bought two holiday caravans. In a statement from the company’s managing director, Mr Dawson, the court heard how both he and the business had been impacted by Brailsford’s actions, noting that not only did he think that the business had lost out financially, but also that he had struggled to keep his work and home life separate because of the incident.
Nicola Hornby, defending, noted that Brailsford has “nothing to show for it…this is not a case where there are substantial assets able to be identified”. She also noted that Brailsford had made admissions when she was charged, has been suffering from depression, for which she takes medication, and that her imprisonment would have an impact on her children and elderly father.
Sentencing Brailsford, Recorder Tim Spruce said that her methods “were not unsophisticated” and the reality was that Brailsford had access to key financial control. Addressing Brailsford, he said: “You gave thought and planning into ways in which the fraud would go undetected.”
However, he did note that Brailsford “made admissions at an early opportunity” and had “expressed clear remorse for what has happened”. She was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison.