A TRUSTED worker has been jailed for more than three years after ripping off her employers,Southampton-based cruise ship giant Carnival, of up to £200,000.
Jacqueline Bowles, denounced by Judge Peter Ralls QC as "a career fraudster", had conned her way into the job by lying about her background, claiming on her application form that she was of good character.
In reality, she had a series of convictions including theft as an employee as well as deception and had even served a three-year jail sentence.
Her duties with the company as payroll officer were to help administrate staff wages, but temptation quickly proved too much for the 60-year-old.
Within four months she had returned to her old ways by changing details of staff after they left their employment with the international cruise company — which owns Cunard, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises — so she could create false bank accounts into which their national wages were paid. That amounted to about £78,000.
Prosecutor Tom Wright told Southampton Crown Court that Bowles got away with the fraud from February 2007 until April 2012, during which time she received more than £100,000 in wages and a payment of more than £7,000 after being made redundant.
The scam came to light shortly after she left the company when a former employee contacted Carnival over his P45 and the false payments were uncovered.
Bowles, of Crabapple Lane, Totton, admitted 15 charges of fraud and was jailed for 38 months.
Mr Scott said: "This was fairly large-scale offending. She was in a position of trust with a high degree of authority so she could change details as she did to carry the fraud out."
He told the judge that Bowles, whose offending began in 1978, had convictions for deception in Kent in 1991 and 1993 which led to her receiving a six-month suspended sentence and two years probation respectively.
In 1997 she was jailed for three years at Maidstone Crown Court for forgery and theft as an employee, and in March 2007 she had appeared at Southampton Crown Court again for theft as employee and deception which resulted in her getting a community order.
In mitigation Chris Gaiger said Harris accepted she would receive a jail term, the only question was its length, which she would find harder to serve as a 60-year-old than as a 50-year-old.
"She admitted the offences in her interview and was very candid with the police, expressing remorse and regret," he said.
Passing sentence, the judge told Bowles her job had enabled her to commit fraud over a long period and her offending represented a significant breach of trust.
The court heard Bowles would face a confiscation hearing in the new year.