'Mean and despicable offences': Leeds Credit Union cashier who deliberately targeted vulnerable members and stole £17,000 is sent to prison

A cashier who stole £17,000 from vulnerable members of Leeds Credit Union has been sent to prison.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 6:00 am

Rhea Williams deliberately targeted members who had been identified as vulnerable on the union’s computer systems before plundering their accounts.

The 20-year-old used the money to pay off debts and take her mum on a Jet2 foreign holiday which cost over £2,000.

She also spent the ill-gotten gains on “frivolous” items including designer clothing, taxis and takeaways.

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Leeds Crown Court

Williams, 20, of Roker Lane, Pudsey, was jailed for 28 months at Leeds Crown Court after pleading guilty to theft from employer.

James Holding, prosecuting, said Williams committed the offences over a 15-month period between March 2019 and June 2020.

The court heard Williams preyed on members who had been identified as being vulnerable.

The defendant identified ten victims and stole a total of £17,596 from them in 33 illegal transactions over the course of the offending.

The court heard Williams was "sophisticated" in the way she used computer systems to cover up her offending.

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Williams stole a total of £14,561 from him in 13 transactions.

The defendant was interviewed by her employers when the offending came to light and admitted what she had done.

Mr Holding said Williams told her bosses that she had initially taken the money to pay off debts.

It was then put to her that she had stolen significantly more then the debts she had accrued.

The prosecutor said: "She said she became more confident and started to use the money to fund her own lifestyle.

The court heard all the victims have been reimbursed by the union.

A statement to the court from the union's chief executive described how the offending had placed pressure on the service and it had been costly and time consuming to investigate.

Aubrey Sampson, mitigating, said Williams stole the money while she was working part-time at the union for around 20 hours per week.

Mr Sampson said his client, who is ten weeks pregnant, had managed to find a new job working in a pub.

He said: "You deliberately targeted people that you had identified as being potentially vulnerable and with substantial savings in their accounts.

"You took advantage of your position. On any view these were mean and despicable offences.

"You ought to have been ashamed of yourself when you heard the outline of the prosecution's case.

"You stole that money and you used it for frivolity - a holiday for you and your mother to go away."

After the case, Leeds Credit Union chief executive Paul Kaye said: "After discovering the disgraceful actions of a member of staff, the credit union took swift action to ensure no members would be financially impacted.

"The matter was immediately reported to the police and a thorough investigation carried out.

"I am pleased the work by the credit union in conjunction with the police, providing strong evidence, has resulted in the ex-member of staff pleading guilty and given the appropriate sentence."