The trusted woman manager of an exclusive lighting company, who almost brought it to its knees by stealing more than two million pounds to fund her secret gambling addiction, was jailed for over five years yesterday (Monday).
Joyce Baker, 61, who lives in Hemel Hempstead, was appointed as financial controller at the company, which had supplied the lighting for Roman Abramovich’s super yacht the Eclipse.
Within six weeks of starting, she began stealing significant sums of money from her bosses on a regular basis, a judge heard.
She used the money to fund online gambling, visits to casinos – where she was given the VIP treatment – holidays abroad and cruises, where she could live the life of a high roller.
As the steady drain of money began to be felt at The Light Corporation in Berkhamsted, mystified bosses were faced with the heart-breaking task of making loyal staff redundant or letting them go.
And it was Glasgow-born Baker who, in her management role, decided who was for the axe.
But yesterday (Monday) her double life of lies and deceit was laid bare when she appeared in court to be sentenced after pleading guilty to a massive £2.1million pound fraud.
She also admitted being in contempt of court for not revealing assets she had hidden.
Baker, of Briery Way, Hemel Hempstead, also broke a court restraining order by cashing in a pension plan worth £26,000 which she put into a concealed bank account. There was only 50p left in it after she transferred some to a sister and spent the rest on gambling, a holiday and household expenses.
She pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position, that between November 2012 and June 2018 she dishonestly and thereby intending to make a gain for herself, abused her position as financial controller of The Light Company (TLC), in which she was expected to safeguard and not to harm the financial interests of TLC, by paying herself £2,011,983.36 from the company bank accounts into her own bank account without the authority of the company.
In addition, she admitted eight breaches of the restraining order.
Jailing her at St Albans Crown Court, Judge Stephen Warner told Baker: “This was systematic and planned dishonesty on a vast scale committed over many years in breach of a high degree of trust.
“I accept it was to feed the scourge of a gambling addiction. It explains your conduct, but cannot justify it.”