Northern Ireland

Doctors' practice manager jailed for fraud

A doctors' practice manager has been jailed for three months for obtaining £8,000 by fraud and deception.

Heather Coard, 48, told the court she did not think she had done anything wrong.

Sentencing her, the judge said: "She knew exactly what she was doing."

Coard, from Tullyard Way in Belfast, was convicted of six charges of obtaining a money transfer by deception and 13 offences of committing fraud by abuse of position.

The jury heard that while working as manager at the Rowantree Medical Practice in south Belfast, Coard changed the details in various cheques to pay herself various sums ranging from £200 to £725.

In total, over a two year period, Coard stole £8,109. She had claimed she was simply reimbursing herself for money that she had spent on equipment and other materials for the practice, was not being dishonest and did not think she had done anything wrong.

The judge said she had breached the trust the practice doctors had placed in her.

"She used that trust to steal, effectively over a two-year period and that had an effect, not just on those she worked with but also on public confidence that medical practices have the utmost integrity," said the judge.