Woman stole £8,101 from her employer

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AN aspiring lawyer has admitted stealing in excess of £8,000 from John Lewis while working in its lingerie department.

Victoria Lawson (25), from Holbeach Drove, appeared at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Friday on six charges of theft by employee.

The amounts involved ranged from £205 to £3,184, totalled £8,101.90, and were stolen between June 26 to August 4.

Anthea Harris, prosecuting, told the court Lawson created fake refunds while working at John Lewis, in the Queensgate Shopping Centre, Peterborough, and credited her own bank account with the sum.

Lawson, a history graduate trained as a solicitor, was approached by staff after the last of the fraudulent transactions, for a sum of £2,040.90 on August 4.

Lawson was subsequently arrested and in her police interview told officers she had committed the offences because she was “sad and depressed and wanted to cheer herself up”, the prosecution said.

Julia Murtagh, in mitigation, said Lawson had struggled to find a training contract with a law firm after studying to be a solicitor and was working on Saturdays at John Lewis, a place she had worked on-and-off since she was 17.

She was, however, also working at a “low level” with a law firm in Lincolnshire and providing unpaid legal advice to vulnerable people in London.

Mrs Murtagh described her as a “sensible, ordinary, clever, ambitious and hard-working individual”, with the offences as “out-of-character”.

She said: “She can’t explain why she did it. She doesn’t have any idea. She had a significant amount of savings in her account already.”

She said Lawson is receiving psychiatric support in the hope of identifying the cause of her actions, with feelings of extreme loneliness and isolation after returning to rural Lincolnshire from university being offered as a factor as a result of these consultations.

Mrs Murtagh stressed, however, her client felt “genuine remorse” for her actions, had paid back the stolen money and already suffered a “massive punishment” through the blow she has dealt her career ambitions.

She said: “She has lost everything she has been working hard to acquire since she was a teenager.”

Magistrates adjourned the case until Friday, September 14 for a pre-sentence report.