Convicted Northamptonshire fraudster 'preyed' on friend's sympathy for £9,000... so she could buy herself helicopter tickets

Jayne Harper span a story that she needed the money to escape an abusive relationship - but really she was planning a day out with a helicopter ride for friends...

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 6:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 6:10 pm

A Northamptonshire fraudster has been sent back to jail for conning a friend out of £9,000 with a story of how she needed money to escape an abusive relationship.

But when she got the money, Jayne Harper - of Main Street, Holcot - blew the cash on a helicopter ride for her and her friends.

Northampton Crown Court heard yesterday (March 10) how this is the sixth time the 59-year-old has been in court for theft and fraud - and comes just four years after she was spared jail for pocketing a £9,000 wedding deposit while she was a business manager at Northamptonshire's Fawsley Hall spa and hotel.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Jayne Harper has now been convicted six times for 31 offences of theft and fraud, including stealing over £1m while working as a manager for O2.
Jayne Harper has now been convicted six times for 31 offences of theft and fraud, including stealing over £1m while working as a manager for O2.

And, more shockingly, she was jailed for 54 months in 2003 for defrauding more than £1million to buy colleagues and friends top-shelf hospitality tickets while she was a regional manager at O2's headquarters in Brackmills.

"You have not learned your lesson," said Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking in sentencing,

"This was a mean offence. You borrowed money under fraudulent circumstances by preying on the sympathies with someone who was at least a work colleague of a friend."

The court heard how Harper, while working as staff at a cricket club in July 2019, span a story to a colleague that she needed £9,000 to buy a house in a bid to escape an abusive partner.

The con even saw the convicted fraudster pretend she was on the phone to a property manager who was asking the money immediately or risk "losing" the house.

The victim even paid for the 'house' by cashing in her own ISAs.

But several months later, when Harper still had not paid back the money, the victim called Action Fraud.

An investigation revealed Harper had spent the money on tickets for a helicopter ride for her and her friends.

She later attended an voluntary police interview and admitted she lied.

By the time of yesterday's court hearing, she had reportedly also paid back £11,000 to the woman to "cover the loan with interest".

Harper's defence barrister, Miss Alexandra Kettle-Williams, told the judge her client had put in more than 1,000 hours of volunteer work since the offence making home calls to the elderly.

But this was met with concern by the Judge.

Judge Lucking said: "That should not be happening.

"She should not be in contact with vulnerable people in this manner.

"She has shown that in a drastic situation she has taken bad decisions in defrauding people.

"I'm very concerned that she is in contact this way with 80-year-olds, even over the phone.

"I'm of the position that organisation should be contacted and she she not be able to do that again."

When she was told she would be going back to prison, Harper spoke over the judge in sentencing.

"I won't do it again," said the 59-year-old. "I promise I've changed, I won't do it again."

"Please be quiet," said the judge, who then jailed Harper for six months.

"You pretended you were in an abusive relationship. You were not, and you did not to buy yourself a house. You were not in dire need in any way.

"You frittered the money on a helicopter ride.

"You have not learned your lesson at any time."

It comes after Judge Lucking also sentenced Harper in 2016 after she pockted £9,000 of customers' deposits while she was business manager at Fawsley Hall in Daventry.

During the hearing, the court heard Harper had taken on small low-paying roles to pay back customers. She was spared immediate jail at Judge Lucking ruled she was at a "low risk of reoffending".