Practice manager who stole over £265k from Ipswich’s Burlington Road surgery back in court

Caryl Heath outside the Burlington Road Surgery in Ipswich. Picture: RICHARD SNASDELL

Caryl Heath outside the Burlington Road Surgery in Ipswich. Picture: RICHARD SNASDELL - Credit: Archant

A confiscation hearing which will decide how much a practice manager at an Ipswich doctors’ surgery who stole more than £265,000 will have to pay back has been adjourned until next month

Caryl Heath, who worked at Burlington Primary Care, in Burlington Road, was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years last year, after she admitted an offence of theft by an employee between 2009 and 2014.

On that occasion Ipswich Crown Court heard 55-year-old Heath, who earned £38,000 pa, gave herself a 50% pay rise after being told her salary was not going to be increased and also made unauthorised monthly payments totalling more than £20,000 into her bank account.

Heath, who worked at the health centre for more than 20 years, also paid herself thousands of pounds of unrecorded and unauthorised overtime.

In addition to being given a suspended prison sentence, Heath, of Farriers Close, Martlesham, was given a six-month electronically-monitored curfew from 7pm-7am.

Today Heath returned to court for a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act which will decide how much she has to pay back.

Matthew Sorel-Cameron, prosecuting, told the court that although there was agreement between the prosecution and defence on a substantial part of the confiscation figure there was one area that needed to be looked at further.

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He asked for the case to be adjourned for a few weeks in order for that to happen.

At Heath’s sentencing hearing Judge David Goodin described what she had done as “beneath contempt” and said she had betrayed her colleagues and the doctors who employed her.

“They must feel entirely betrayed by you because they were,” he said.

He said he “just” felt able to pass a suspended prison sentence because of her guilty pleas, her previous good character and after hearing mitigation.

The court heard that Heath’s dishonesty came to light in 2014 after she underwent major surgery and a doctor became suspicious after looking at the practice’ accounts.

At the last hearing Heath’s barrister said she intended to repay £130,000 from the sale of her home and £20,000 from her savings.