Cheltenham sub-postmistress sentenced for £26,000 fraud

Image caption,
Wendy Buffrey was said to be under great stress and unable to face making up the shortfall

A former sub-postmistress has been ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work for covering up losses of more than £26,000 at her branch in Cheltenham.

Wendy Buffrey, who ran the Up Hatherley post office, pleaded guilty to filing false accounts to the Post Office.

The court heard the 50-year-old was under a great amount of stress because of illness in her family and could not face having to make up the shortfall.

She was given 42 days to repay the missing money.

Buffrey admitted two charges of fraud by falsifying accounts between April and December 2008.

The prosecution accepted she was "not responsible for the actual taking of the money".

'Evil day'

During sentencing at Gloucester Crown Court, Judge William Hart said: "This was a case of false accounting to put off the day that you had to pay a large discrepancy in the Post Office's balance.

"As your defence barrister put it, you were putting off the 'evil day'.

"The offences were committed at a time you were struggling to cope. Pre-sentence reports showed you were a pillar of the community, but because of your [health issues], your problems grew and grew."

He added that because of her reputation, he suspected she would be "an asset to the organisers of community pay-back".

In addition to the community service order, Buffrey was told to pay £1,500 costs.

A statement from the Post Office said: "[We have] a zero-tolerance approach to any dishonesty and that stance is shared by the overwhelming majority of individual sub-postmasters and their staff, who are honest and hardworking.

"We do not comment on individual court cases. Our policy is that we will always seek to prosecute the tiny minority of people who abuse their position of trust."

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