Last Christmas Wham!
A former Cambridge University finance officer has been sentenced to just over four and a half years in prison after admitting fraud of almost £300,000.
Jacqueline Balaam, 41, of Fallowfield, Cambridge, was arrested in January last year on suspicion of theft from employer, following a report from Pembroke College, part of the University of Cambridge.
She pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of false accounting at Cambridge Crown Court on February 16.
The court heard how Balaam falsified invoices to obtain a total of £285,986 between June 2012 and January 2014, in order to fund her gambling addiction.
She also defrauded Girton Social Club of £3,198 between December 2010 and January 2014 while she worked for it as treasurer.
Balaam appeared at Cambridge Crown Court today (Monday 16th March) and was sentenced to 30 months in prison for one charge of fraud, a further 12 months for the second charge of fraud and another 12 months for the charge of false accounting. All three sentences are to run concurrently.
Detective Sergeant Dave York, from the force's Economic Crime Unit, said:
"This is a case where the strength of an addiction to online gambling overcame the defendant's resistance to temptation.
She systematically abused her positions of trust in the College Accounts Office and the Girton Social Club using a fairly simple but sophisticated and complex method of falsifying accounting records. This enabled her to steal the money in the first place and then cover her tracks so she was not discovered.
Sadly, thefts related to gambling addictions are a common problem and the sentence is a reflection of how firmly cases like this are dealt with.
It should hopefully serve as a warning that there are serious consequences if anyone is in a position where they are tempted to take money to fund their gambling. I would encourage anyone facing this issue to seek help before it gets to this stage."