Sudbury: Sentencing of woman who stole £15,000 from youth project is adjourned after judge slams “wholly inadequate” probation report
PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 July 2014
A woman who pocketed £15,000 she was given to set up a new youth club in west Suffolk has had her sentencing hearing put off after a judge slammed a probation report on her as “wholly inadequate”.
Lucy McNaul attended Ipswich Crown Court on Monday expecting to learn her fate but was told to come back next month after Judge Rupert Overbury demanded a more detailed pre sentence report which looked at all sentencing options.
Apologising to McNaul, who has no previous convictions, for the delay Judge Overbury described the pre-sentence report he had received as “wholly inadequate”. “It is not sufficient for the purposes of this hearing,” he said.
“I’m not prepared to deal with your sentence today as the report that has been commissioned is inadequate and doesn’t do justice to the case. It doesn’t explain matters that should be considered,” said the judge.
He told McNaul the dishonesty she had admitted was “extremely serious” and said that even though he was adjourning the case for a more detailed probation report looking at all sentencing options she could still face a prison sentence.
McNaul had admitted keeping more than half the £29,400 grant she was awarded to create the Works in Sudbury back in 2010.
The 44-year-old, of Grenville Road, Sudbury, was handed the money from the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) Community Cashback scheme – which was designed to put assets recovered from criminal activities back into community projects.
She pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at an earlier hearing at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court and sentence was adjourned until yesterday (Mon) for a probation report.
At the earlier hearing prosecutor Ian Devine said: “£15,000 of that money was used by the defendant for a variety of reasons linked to herself – nothing to do with the project whatsoever.
“This was a significant breach of trust because this money was for the community and intended to go back into the community.”
In mitigation, the court heard that the rest of the MoJ’s grant had been spent legitimately on the Works project, and that McNaul had admitted her guilt to police two years ago, with the case taking two years to come to court due to delays
between Government departments.
The Community Cashback scheme has since closed.
McNaul gave a presentation to Sudbury Town Council about the Works project back in March 2010, where she outlined plans to start a drop-in centre in
East Street in rooms above the Co-operative supermarket.
The town council has been instrumental in pursuing the lost money.
McNaul pleaded guilty to keeping the £15,000 for herself, having signed an MoJ document stating she had spent all the money on the Works.