Cut price: Former John Lewis worker stole £2,500 from Peterborough store

Scales of Justice. Scales of Justice.

Saturday, March 8, 2014
2:00 PM

A former department store employee stole nearly £2,500 by creating fraudulent refunds and crediting her own bank account.

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Arabella Wills, of Great North Road, Alconbury, appeared at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Friday (February 28).

The 23-year-old, who worked on the Chanel counter at John Lewis in Peterborough, had admitted fraud by abuse of position at an earlier hearing.

Prosecuting, Jackie Carradice said Wills had started working at the store in April 2011 and made the fraudulent payments between October 2012 and September last year. “The refunds were manually completed, but the items had never been sold to the defendant,” she added.

“In order to access tills, each operator has their own ID and password. The defendant’s ID was used on four occasions to facilitate the transactions.”

Wills also used a colleague’s details for six transactions and another was used to steal £164. “That colleague was spoken to and shown to be off on those days,” said Mrs Carradice. “To process transactions, customers’ details have to be completed. They had been completed with an X or a Mr or Mrs Thomas.”

Wills left her job in October last year after allegedly being bullied by her manager, the court heard.

When interviewed by police, she told officers she could not explain why the refunds, which totalled £2,428.01, had been placed on her account.

Defending Wills, Simon Milburn said she had been “extremely stupid”. “It’s accepted that she did not initially admit the offences in interview. She was scared stiff of what would happen, panicked and tried to put forward the best denials she could.

“It was clear she would have to plead guilty because the evidence pointed in one direction. She realised she had been found out and very quickly owned up to what she had done.

“On one occasion another colleague did something similar and told her about it. She followed her colleague’s behaviour, did not get caught and things snowballed and she continued to offend until she was caught out.”

Wills had provided the funds for the stolen cash to be repaid, said Mr Milburn.

She was given a 12-month community order and will have to do 150 hours unpaid work. She must also pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

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