Woman stole £32k from RAF catering company to spend on online gambling

Dawn Warden admitted to transferring £32,041.80 from Sodexo, a catering company associated with RAF Brize Norton, to her own bank account between May 20, 2020 and March 19, 2021.

The 47-year-old was working at the company as a unit manager and was using other employee’s logins in attempts to ‘muddy up’ who was logging on and transferring money.

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She was using the funds on websites such as Gala Spin, an online gambling site, making up to 20 payments per day.

Warden, of Willowherb, Hayden Wicks, was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court on Thursday (February 8) to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

The court heard that the company first noticed some discrepancies in the finances in late 2020 and managers were asked to explain the issue. About £22,500 was missing when the concerns were first raised.

However, it was marked in the system by Warden as a simple error and the matter was dismissed.

Concerns were raised again in March 2021 and an internal investigation was launched. Employees who worked under Warden told the company she had been logging into the system using their details.

They said she had instructed them to give her their login details as she had ‘forgotten her own’.

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Warden then admitted she had falsified accounts but only to ‘cover-up that money was missing’ but did not admit she knew where the money was.

She then resigned before a disciplinary hearing could take place.

In February 2022, her father gave her £14,000 to pay Sodexo back but the money was immediately withdrawn in cash and ‘flitted away’.

Police were then informed and a reduction order was made on her bank account which revealed the transactions.

In August 2022, she admitted to police to taking the money but was not able to say how much or when. She added she had taken the money for an online gambling habit.

Warden’s defence barrister told the court Warden has since registered for ‘Gamstop’, an online service which seeks to help people stop gambling.

It was added that she has no previous convictions and is ‘the rock’ of her family.

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Sentencing Warden, Recorder Joseph Hart said: “I accept that during the pandemic you became increasingly isolated and became addicted to online gambling.

“This began harmlessly but you became enthralled. You lost your moral compass and committed offences I’m told you’re not deeply ashamed of.”

Warden will also need to complete 20 rehabilitation activity days and 100 hours of unpaid work. She also needs to pay back £7,200.

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