AN OFFICE manager for a lettings agency, who felt she was underpaid, secretly pocketed more than £51,000 - money her boss had earmarked for his disabled son.
Cheryl Shackley, a former financial advisor, diverted money paid to the firm into her own accounts over two years before it came to light.
And when arrested the 44-year-old tried to blame the owner making false claims that the money had been moved so he could reduce his tax liability.
Her claims caused the boss, Kevin O’Hare emotional distress and while they were being investigated by police he suffered a life threatening illness and feared he would not live to see her brought to justice.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that the money was part of a nest egg he was building up for his son who has Down’s Syndrome to pay for his care when he and his wife were no longer around to care for him.
Jailing the mum-of-three for two and a half years Judge Neil Flewitt, QC, said that 72-year-old Mr O’Hare will either “have to work longer than anticipated or his son will have less financial support than expected and you are responsible for that.”
He said he accepted imprisonment would impact on her children, the youngest 17, but he pointed out the thefts involved multiple transactions over a lengthy period.
“You were dissatisfied with what you were being paid and felt you were entitled to more and the way of dealing with that concern was not to raise it with your employer or seek alternative employment but to help yourself to his money to make up that perceived shortfall.”
Shackley, of Delph Drive, Burscough, had pleaded guilty, a week before her trial was due, to three theft offences.
Martine Snowdon, prosecuting, said the defendant had been employed by Formby-based Art History Ltd and the offences occurred between May 2016 and April 2018. They involved three different methods.
One involved transferring funds directly from the firm’s business account into her own personal ones, which happened on 119 occasions totalling £31,000. She also arranged for rent from five tenants to be paid directly into her bank account, amounting to £19,000 and she used the company bank account to buy goods on line from Next and Shop Direct.
Ms Snowdon explained that Mr O’Hare was working to build a ‘nest egg’ for his son’s lifelong care. In an impact statement he told of his health problems and how he no longer trusts people.
He and his wife had “lived frugal and hard working lives” to provide for their son’s life long care.
Jason Smith, defending, said that the money “went on running of the family.” But questioned by the judge he admitted that she had gone to New York for three days, lived in a rented home with a swimming pool and had gone on a spa break.