A letting agent who swindled £128,000 from her employer to fund an affair with her personal trainer was rumbled after landlords complained they had not received their rent.
Joanne Barker, 46, went behind the backs of her business partner husband Paul and their best friends and fellow directors Ian and Jo-Anne Tweedley, who owned the Barton Kendall agency in Rochdale, The Daily Mail reports.
During 2014-2018, Barker diverted money from the firm’s client account into her own personal bank account, which she used to make rental payments to a fictitious landlord and pay for a £3,640 central heating system at her £400,000 marital home, Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court heard.
She used her lover’s bank account to deposit £8,586 worth of stolen cash and allowed him to live rent-free for six months in one of the firm’s properties. Barker also engaged in false representing that works were being carried out at landlords’ properties.
In a statement, Mr Tweedley, 57, said: “When I found out she was siphoning off clients’ money from the business and stealing all the tenants’ deposits, that day was the worst of my life. I sold my beloved car to pay off the landlords and obtained a £50,000 business loan to pay off contractors. We lost some big landlords, over 50 managed properties, over £50,000 a year.”
Barker admitted fraud by false representation but initially insisted she had only stolen £28,868. She was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence after claiming she was now living off state benefits in a flat in Salford and needed to care for her elderly mother.
Sentencing Judge Angela Nield also told Barker to complete 180 hours unpaid work, 30 days rehabilitation activity days, abide by a two-month 7pm-7am curfew and face a Proceeds of Crime hearing.