Published: 10:31, 02 March 2006
A SUB-postmistresss who stole £50,000 has been spared a prison sentence after a judge was told that she could pay back the money.
Oyeteju Adedayo claimed she took the cash because she was being pressured to repay a loan in that amount to relatives.
But Maidstone Crown Court heard that the 41-year-old, who ran Rainham Road Post Office in Gillingham, had at least £200,000 of equity in her home.
A judge said it would cause enormous difficulties to the family if the mother-of-three was sent to prison.
"One can observe you should have thought about these things," Judge David Caddick said.
But he added: "I approach the matter on the basis that sufficient punishment can be given by having a period of imprisonment hanging over your head and unpaid work for the community to mark the seriousness."
Adedayo was given a 50-week sentence suspended for two years and ordered to complete 200 hours under a community punishment order.
She was found to have falsified accounts to disguise taking the money when an audit was to be carried out on September 5 last year.
Adedayo, whose husband is a teacher at a special needs school in Ramsgate, had moved from Berkshire to Medway to become the sub-postmistress six years ago.
Madeleine Woolf, defending, said Adedayo and her husband would be remortgaging the family home in Catkin Close, Walderslade, bought for £240,000, to repay the money.
If she was imprisoned, she said, there would be ramifications for her children aged 13, 11 and eight. Her husband would have to give up work to take the children to school.
Judge Caddick told Adedayo, who admitted false accounting, that the offence was a gross breach of trust and so serious that the starting point was immediate custody "of, perhaps, a couple of years".
The judge said Adedayo had worked perfectly properly for six years but then succumbed to taking the money.
"The proper thing to have done was to do what you are doing now - borrow the money on a mortgage to repay those who helped you buy the premises," he said.
"I proceed on the basis that the probability is you will be raising the money after you have had the opportunity to do so."