Exclusive: mum stole £1.5m for luxury lifestyle

Wendy Nichols
Wendy Nichols

A mum-of-two who stole more than £1.5m from her Kettering bosses to fund a luxury lifestyle has been jailed for five and-a-half years.

Wendy Nichols, 49, spent the cash she stole from logistics and warehousing firm Logistex on cosmetic surgery, expensive holidays, cars for family members and for her two daughters to go to private boarding schools.

She started work at Logistex in 2002, and four years later she began her six-year spree.

By the time her fraud was discovered the financial controller had stolen £1,537,608 from the firm.

She had tried to cover her tracks by altering spreadsheets and company records.

Nichols was jailed for five-and-a-half years when she appeared at Northampton Crown Court on Wednesday.

She had pleaded guilty to theft and false accounting during a previous hearing.

Elizabeth Gooderham, prosecuting, said Nichols was caught out when the Logistex financial director noticed an unusual and large transaction in the company’s records.

He contacted Nichols, who initially denied any knowledge of the transaction.

However, after a further investigation, dozens of transactions were discovered involving large sums being moved into Nichols’ account.

She had covered her tracks by overriding the firm’s protocols which said transactions needed to be authorised by two people.

On some of the transactions she had used the details of a former employee to make it appear as if two people had authorised the payments into her account.

Mrs Gooderham said: “The money was being spent on regular trips to department stores, holidays to New York, Dubai and Tenerife and cosmetic surgery for Nichols and one of her daughters.

“She bought her daughters a BMW Mini and BMW X3, she also paid for them to go to a private boarding school and bought one of them a flat in Glasgow which cost more than £200,000.

“It was an extravagant lifestyle not borne out by someone on a salary of between £50,000 and £60,000.”

Nichols was living at a country property in Bristol during the time of the offences.

The address she gave to court was in Chesterfield Avenue, Glasgow.

She travelled to Kettering to work for Logistex a number of times every week.

Maxine Krone, mitigating, said Nichols felt she had “created a monster” during the thefts, and had initially intended to pay the money back.

She added: “She is ashamed of herself and of the breach of trust.”

Mrs Krone said Nichols had arrived in court with her suitcase already packed as she fully expected a prison sentence.

Judge Richard Bray said he had no choice but to send Nichols to prison.

He added: “You used your position to defraud your employer over a period of six years.

“It is amazing to me that this fraud was not detected sooner.

“The money was spent on the most blatant luxuries.”

Nichols showed no emotion as she was handed a five and-a-half year sentence for each offence, to be served concurrently.