Finance worker stole £437k from employer to fund lavish lifestyle

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3 min read
Emma Rhodes, 37, has been jailed for five years (Police)
Emma Rhodes, 37, has been jailed for five years (Police)

A finance worker has been jailed after stealing £437,000 from her employer to fund a lavish lifestyle which included luxury holidays, Rolex watches and home renovations.

Emma Rhodes, 37, cheated Norco Holdings out of the cash between December 2015 and May 2018.

Officers established the money stolen had been spent on a house build, Rolex watch, regular payments for a Range Rover and general extravagant living, including luxury hotel breaks, sun holidays and ski trips.

The only available assets recovered were two shotguns and a diamond ring.

Rhodes, of Manor Lane in Verwood, was jailed for five years on Friday after admitting at Bournemouth Crown Court to an offence of fraud.

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General view of the Crown Court in Bournemouth, Dorset.   (Photo by Chris Ison - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
She was jailed at Bournemouth Crown Court (getty)

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Following her dismissal in May 2018 for an indiscretion at the workplace, irregularities were highlighted within the finances of the company and the owner reported the suspicious theft activity to his bank NatWest.

NatWest contacted Lloyds Bank as the recipient of the money was held by them and it was established that the accounts were held by Rhodes, formerly Emma Martin, and another man.

The same day Rhodes sent a lengthy WhatsApp message to her former boss in which she referred to the missing money, pleaded with him not to go to the police and spoke about harming herself.

When she was arrested in June 2018 she was living in a caravan and wooden chalet at the rear of her home, which was being extensively modified and rebuilt.

A search of her address was carried out and officers found documents, including a receipt for roof trusses to the value of £15,599.99, a purchase document for a Range Rover Sport valued at £79,995 and a receipt for an £8,300 Rolex watch.

All 29 thefts were concealed in legitimate transactions and ranged from £1,632 to just over £35,000. In total £437,000 was stolen.

All the money was paid into three Lloyds bank accounts belonging to Rhodes. One of the accounts used was held jointly with another man.

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In a prepared statement, Rhodes claimed the victim had been complicit in the fraud to avoid having to pay tax. None of this was substantiated.

A 42-year-old man from Verwood had been charged with converting criminal property under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, but the offence was later withdrawn at court and he will face no further police or court action.

At sentencing, Judge Brian Forster QC told Rhodes that she had committed a shocking breach of trust by making repeated fraudulent payments to herself and had lived a lifestyle based on the money she had stolen.

Detective Constable Steph Ashworth, of Bournemouth CID, said: “She did this out of pure greed to finance her house build and a lavish lifestyle.

"She pleaded guilty just two weeks before the trial was due to be held and caused the victim further anxiety by making unfounded allegations that he had been complicit in the fraud.”

The court heard that proceedings will be commenced under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to recover the money Rhodes stole.