An office manager at Abergavenny Garden Centre has been jailed for 15 months after admitting fraud at the family-run centre in Llanfoist. Cardiff Crown Court heard 37-year-old Zena Price conned her employers out of £32,021.92 over a three-year period.
Ian McDonald, director of the garden centre, said Price betrayed his trust and her offending had a direct impact on the small family-run business.
In a victim impact statement read out in court , he said: “I feel personally devastated as I had full confidence and trust in her.”
Nuhu Gobir, prosecuting, said she was employed in April 2014 as an office manager, responsible for day-to-day transactions. She was the “financial mind” of the company responsible for payroll, payments to suppliers, and setting up electronic financial systems.
Prosecutors said Price set up false payees, created fake invoices, and paid herself double wages.
Mr Gobir told the court she set up payee accounts with almost duplicate names of suppliers and transferred funds from the garden centre’s account into her own personal account.
Her fraud was discovered when she was off work due to illness in September 2017 and Mr McDonald took over the financial running of the company.
There was an investigation and Price was interviewed by the police a month later.
She told officers she started taking money because she was £2,000 in debt from catalogue shopping but then carried on when she thought she could get away with it.
Price, from Penylan Road in Pontypool , admitted fraud.
Owen Williams, defending, told the court she had no previous convictions and described her as a “caring mother”.
He added: “She is truly ashamed for what she has done.”
Mr Williams said his client has been affected by depression and back problems and asked for any jail term to be suspended instead of immediate.
But Judge Thomas Crowther QC said the offending was too serious and Price was jailed for 15 months.
He told her: “You had been given a high degree of trust and you breached that trust, taking from the man who gave you that job in the first place.
“It takes a certain sort of selfishness to do that.”