Council worker used gadget scam to steal £48,000 from ‘people of Sunderland’

Sunderland Civic Centre
Sunderland Civic Centre
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A trusted council worker who stole over £40,000 from a city in an electronic gadget scam has walked free from court.

Administration employee Alison Tindle used a Sunderland City Council Vodaphone account to buy £48,000 worth of mobile phones and tablets, which she sold on through retail outlets Game and Grainger Games.

“You stole from the people of Sunderland in effect, something around £40,000 of money that could have been used for other purposes, for people in Sunderland.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the thieving mum pocketed over £23,500 through the sales of 77 telepones and tablets between July 2013 and December 2014.

Tindle, of Abbey Drive, Houghton le Spring, pleaded guilty to theft.

The court heard the 51-year-old carried out the 17-month long scam without being questioned by council bosses.

It was only when Vodaphone reported the suspicious activity on the council account that an investigation was launched.

Mr Recorder Willliam Lowe QC questioned whether there had been any checks to monitor the council’s cash and prosecutor Paul Rowland confirmed there “surprisingly” was not.

The judge told Tindle: “You stole from the people of Sunderland in effect, something around £40,000 of money that could have been used for other purposes, for people in Sunderland.

“The system, if it could be called that, was such there was no check either on a weekly, monthly, annual or as far as I can tell, any other basis, to monitor the receipt and disposal of the items.

“It was only after this had been going on for some 18 months it came to light and that was not as a result of any investigation by the council but as a result of Vodaphone contacting the council.”

The judge said an immediate prison sentence would ordinarily follow but that Tindle was in a “difficult” position in her personal life, had led a blameless life and was full of remorse.

He sentenced her to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

Mr Rowland told the court the scame came to light when the phone company got in touch with the council to querie the large amounts of orders.

Tindle confessed what she had been doing when she was confronted.

Mr Rowland said: “She indicated she would take receipt of the devices, put them in her bag before leaving work then she would take them to the premises mentioned and sell them.

“She told officers she used the oney to pay bill and keep her head above water.

“She also accepted she had given her children two of the phones to use as theirs.”

Jessica Slaughter, defending, said Tindle had a “very difficult” life and handed in a stack of positive character references to the court.

The court heard rental properties owned by the Tindle famly were not generating cash.