Published: 06:00, 12 September 2021
Then sneaky Selena Cronin deleted computer files and shredded documents and even pocketed the petty cash tin on the day she quit.
Now the 41-year-old, of Farley Close, Chatham has been sent to prison for 19 months after admitting stealing £27,805 between April 2016 and April 2017.
Maidstone Crown Court heard how company boss David Rossiter, who subsidised finances with at least £55,000 of his own money, eventually had to call in administrators.
Prosecutor Ben Irwin told how Mr Rossiter did not know that Cronin had a secret.
In 2014 she had been given a caution by the Metropolitan Police for a £20,000 fraud on a previous employer.
Judge Catherine Moore told the thief: “You set out to destroy the business and when it was plain there was nothing left for you to take, you simply walked out the door taking the cash tin with you as you went.
“The impact on the business was profound. Mr Rossiter describes a business that was taken to the brink of collapse by your selfish and considered actions. You completely destroyed his trust in you.”
Mr Rossiter told in a Victim Impact Statement of the moment he discovered the extent of Cronin’s thieving from his firm, based near Maidstone.
“It became clear that Selena had taken all that could be taken from the company without me being alerted directly by the bank. "The bank accounts were empty, the PayPal account was empty and the petty cash tin had gone. There was nothing left.
“The impact on my very small business was incredible. I could not pay our creditors and had to put the company into administration. I was due to marry that year and I ended up in a position where I could not afford the ceremony.
“Thankfully my father was able to loan me the money and I am still paying this back. I have had to rebuild my business from the ground up and continue to work hard to keep it afloat in these early stages.
"The bank accounts were empty, the PayPal account was empty and the petty cash tin had gone.."
“My wife and I feel like we have been to hell and back, clinging to our livelihood by the skin of our teeth.”
In November 2016, Mr Rossiter on a business trip in South Africa, received an email from Cronin telling him there were insufficient funds to pay staff wages.
The businessman paid out of his own pocket as she's diverted monies into her bank accounts and also one held by her daughter.
Her scams included making false reports, creating her own invoicing documents and even using colleagues’ emails to stall creditors.
Mr Irwin told the court that Cronin also ensured that a credit controller tasked with ‘getting a grip’ on the firm’s financial situation did not have access to the records which would have revealed her thieving.
On April 10, 2017, Mr Rossiter was away on another business trip when he discovered the office had not been opened that morning and staff had not been paid.
That same day his project manager had trouble boarding a flight from Heathrow Airport to Taiwan when it was discovered the ticket had not been paid for, despite Cronin’s responsibility for doing so.
Mr Rossiter returned to the UK and, on discovering the company accounts were empty, reported the matter to police.
“What had previously held a significant sum was now very significantly into its overdraft by £48,000, and money had been paid out into accounts plainly owned by the defendant,” said the prosecutor.
“Analysis revealed thefts of approximately £27,805 but the reality is that it is very difficult for Mr Rossiter to be precise about just how much was stolen.
“What had previously held a significant sum was now very significantly into its overdraft by £48,000..."
Mr Rossiter said she’d done "everything she could to destroy every evidence of her scam."
Surinder Gohlan, defending, said he could not provide any detail as to Cronin’s motivation for stealing or how she spent the money.
He added she lived in rented accommodation with her 21-year-old daughter and her only asset was an £800 car. She now faces an inquiry under the Proceeds of Crime Act to try to recover the money.