Published: 11:10, 30 November 2016
| Updated: 11:45, 30 November 2016
A bookkeeper who gambled away almost £1m of company funds has been ordered to pay back just £57,741.
Caroline Dumont, who is serving three years and four months, systematically siphoned off money from three firms in New Ash Green and Aylesford for almost three years.
One company was forced into liquidation and the second, set up to save staff jobs, would have sunk within a year if the deceit had not been discovered. The boss of plant hire company Tara Holdings and later Aylesford-based Tara Ltd, had to use his own money to keep the business afloat.
Jailing Dumont, Recorder David Jeremy QC said she had violated company director Paul Newman “just as effectively, and perhaps more damagingly, as if she had assaulted him with a weapon”.
Dumont, of Brenda Terrace, Swanscombe, admitted three offences of fraud in relation to Tara Holdings, Tara Ltd and New Ash Green based Steadfast Carpentry.
Prosecutor Bridget Todd told Maidstone Crown Court in December last year: “It is obvious from close examination of her bank accounts that she has a gambling habit that is entrenched and relentless.”
"The defendant basically stole and then gambled it away merrily" - Prosecutor Alex Rooke
Prosecutor Alex Rooke said when Dumont, 58, appeared for a confiscation hearing on Thursday she benefited to the tune of £939,674, but her available assets totalled £57,741.
“The defendant basically stole and then gambled it away merrily with well-known organisations,” he said. One of those organisations has made a goodwill payment as an act of social conscience to the three losers.
Out of the available money Tara Ltd will get £44,068, Tara Holdings will get £11,641 and Steadfast Carpentry will receive £2,032. A further 12-month prison sentence will be imposed in default if the amount is not paid within two months.
Seghin Kong, defending, said the sum was based on “tainted goods” to Dumont’s son and nephew and not money she expected to be able to recover.
“So effectively the order made today is almost inevitably going to result in the imposition of the default sentence,” he said.
Asked by Judge Charles Macdonald QC if there was any reason why Dumont’s son could not remortgage his home, Mr Kong said: “That will be a matter for her and her son.”
The judge said: “I am satisfied this cannot be paid today, but there are ways in which it can be paid, and I am allowing two months for this.”