Woman's deception led to mum's sacking

A TRUSTED employee who siphoned more than £45,000 from a small business, forcing bosses to make her mother redundant to save cash, is today behind bars.

A TRUSTED employee who siphoned more than £45,000 from a small business, forcing bosses to make her mother redundant to save cash, is today behind bars.

Suzanne Bantick was so highly regarded by her employers at Birch Farm Children's Nursery in Hintlesham that she was given blank cheques to pay invoices and allowed unfettered access to company accounts.

But over the course of two years, the mother-of-two repeatedly abused their faith and stole from the business, bringing the company to its knees.

The cash crisis reached such proportions that owners Diana and Richard Bryce had to release Bantick's mother, Brenda Caley, who also worked at the nursery.

Bantick, of Oxford Drive, Hadleigh, pleaded guilty to five counts of theft at Ipswich Crown Court and was jailed for 12 months.

Bantick, who received £8 an hour to oversee the day-to-day accounting of the business, stole the money through credit card transfers, wage overpayment and by writing cheques to herself, between 2004 and 2006.

Most Read

The biggest sum stolen came in July 2005, when the 27-year-old switched £13,000 from a company credit card into her own account.

In January 2006, with the 15-year-old business sliding towards financial meltdown, Mr and Mrs Bryce took the difficult step of making Bantick's mother redundant.

The deceit was only uncovered when Bantick took maternity leave and Mrs Bryce found unauthorised payments on credit card statements.

A full investigation later revealed the scale of the theft, which ran to a total of £45,030.97.

Neil McCaulay, prosecuting, claimed Bantick, who asked for similar offences to be taken into consideration, was driven to steal because she was “living beyond her means”.

Edmund Gritt, mitigating, said his client, who was of previous good character, was remorseful.

Judge John Devaux, sentencing, told Bantick she had committed a serious breach of trust.

“You had been taken on by a family because they knew your mother,” he said.

“The victims are a small family concern - not a large government body or a public company.”

Have you been duped by a scam? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

ONE of Suzanne Bantick's victims today spoke of the difficulties she faced in recovering her business after the mother-of-two stole more than £45,000.

Diana and Richard Bryce own the Birch Farm Children's Nursery in Hintlesham which employed Bantick between 2003 and 2006.

The couple already employed Bantick's mother, but were forced to make her redundant when cash started to go missing.

Today Mrs Bryce said: “You trust all your staff when you are a small business. You just let them get on with it but there was complete trust with Suzie.

“Her mother had worked for me for three or four years when Suzie started. We knew her anyway because she had taught our children how to horse ride.

“I used to sit beside her three days a week and she was always friendly.

“Everyone was amazed when they found out because she was such a nice woman. It was a big shock. It made us feel quite sick that our trust had been broken.

“We were investing a lot of money in a second business and she knew the situation we were in. She was putting the whole business at risk.”

Mrs Bryce was in court to hear Bantick's fate.

She said: “I felt I had to go to court just to put closure on it.

“I think the sentencing was fair, although she will get out in six months which is unfortunate.”

Mrs Bryce, who said her business is thriving again, believes Bantick used the cash to pay her mortgage and buy a car.

She added: “She was certainly bold to do what she did knowing that we were struggling. I think she just got in deeper and deeper.

“It's changed the way we feel. This is a rural community and everyone helps each other. We have been hurt but time heals. As the months pass it's easier to accept.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter