A Hemel Hempstead fraudster who stole £2.1million from the Berkhamsted company where she worked was told today (Wednesday, November 18) she must sell her home to repay some of the money she swindled out of the firm.
Joyce Baker (pictured), 63, was jailed for her crimes for five years and 10 months in September last year, which she committed to fund her secret gambling addiction.
But when she is released from prison in August 2022, she will have to sell her £375,000, three-bedroom house in Briery Way, Hemel, where she was living with her 86-year-old husband William before she was jailed last year.
A judge made the order today following a confiscation hearing earlier this month.
The money from the sale of her home will go back to The Light Corporation in Berkhamsted, where she once worked and where her dishonesty almost brought it to its knees and led to staff redundancies.
At the centre of the proceedings earlier this month were what was described in court as “tainted gifts” that she made to her two grown up sons of around £100,000 each.
Today a judge ruled neither son would have to repay the money given to them by their mother.
Both the sons, who didn’t know about their mother’s thieving, told St Albans Crown Court the money they received from her over a six-year period was spent on day-to-day living and paying household bills – neither owned their homes and said they had debts.
The judge did rule that after her release from prison in 21 months’ time, Baker will have six months to sell the property or face going back to jail for another two years.
Some of Baker’s other assets have been seized by police to help pay back her former company; they include £7,500 she gave to a relative, money from a private pension plan she has, a car worth around £7,000 and money she received regarding mis-sold PPI worth nearly £3,000.
Her former boss, David Caddick – who was forced to make some staff redundant because of her dishonesty – said he believes she’s hidden away some of her ill-gotten gains for when she is released.
Glasgow-born Baker had been a trusted manager at the exclusive lighting company in the past, but within weeks of her starting as financial controller there in 2012, she was using her position to steal significant sums of money on a regular basis.
She used the money to fund online gambling, visits to casinos, holidays abroad and cruises. At the same time, her actions brought the company almost to the brink of collapse.
As the steady drain of money continued and her mystified bosses were faced with the heartbreaking task of making loyal staff redundant or letting them go.
And it was Baker who, in her management role and on £45,000-a-year, decided who got the axe.
Eventually, her deceit was laid bare when a shareholder at the company took a closer look at the books and police were eventually called in.
She pleaded guilty in court last year before being jailed.
She said she would be 65 when she is eventually released from jail, and while she hopes to find work, it will not be anything like the well paid job she had at The Light Corporation.
Commenting on the news that she must sell off her assets as a way of repaying some of the money back to his company, Mr Caddick said: “She’s had more than enough time to hide cash over the six years or so prior to her being caught.
“The monies from the sale of the house, if sold sooner, would have been able to be used to safeguard and secure the jobs we now have left here at the company after us all suffering, not only from her criminality, but from the COVID pandemic as well.
“We have lost many good, hardworking colleagues through redundancy and having to lay them off, yet she gets to return from jail to the house she bought with her ill-gotten gains to, yet again, gloat and look down on ex-colleagues that live in the streets surrounding her house.
“This is simply too much. Where in all of this is the justice for the victim? This house could and should have been sold a year ago.”
Mr Caddick said Baker’s final months at his company were spent trying to bring it down and leave it bankrupt so that her crimes would have gone undiscovered.
“She failed in her attempt to do this and we are going from strength to strength, even in these unprecedented and difficult times,” he added.