Devon

Plymouth vet practice manager jailed for stealing £290k

The manager of a Plymouth veterinary practice has been jailed for stealing £290,000 from the business.

Della Barbour, 50, admitted stealing from cash payments made to the Elm Veterinary Surgery over five years.

It was used to pay for her children's private education, foreign holidays, shopping and expensive hairstyles, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

Barbour, jailed for two years and eight months, was also told to pay a token £5 compensation because she is penniless.

'Slow build-up'

Barbour, of The Rectory, Yelverton, had worked at the practice - which has branches in Plymouth and Plymstock - for 30 years, the court heard.

She had originally admitted stealing £392,000 between 2006 and 2010, but the figure was disputed by her defence team and a figure of £100,000 less settled on.

As well as the thefts, she also admitted false accounting by tampering with the records of the firm's computer system.

Defence lawyer Andrew Maitland said 2009 had been the "worst year, when £87,000 was stolen".

People who paid the business with cards were not affected.

After the trial, police said a lot of the money from the "cash fiddle" had been spent on an extravagant lifestyle, and that £100,000 had also been spent on fees for the private education of two of her children.

Det Con Dan Parkinson, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "The cash was put in the safe, but she would bank, say, £200 not £400 and keep the balance after putting in pay-slips of £200 to cover her tracks.

"The accounts appeared to be correct and this was a very slow build-up of stealing."

The court head the mother-of-four suffered from depression and had contemplated suicide.

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