An addict confesses
A Welsh finance manager stole over £47,000 ($56,629) in 2020 from a charity she worked for and used it to gamble.
also spent £19,000 ($22,892) on illegal Amazon purchases using an alias
Bethan Hopkins, 43, also spent £19,000 ($22,892) on illegal Amazon purchases using an alias. She was funded by the accounts of Safer Wales, a charity that helps rape, domestic abuse, and hate crime victims.
The accused then continued to spend money from the account even after her superiors unearthed inconsistencies in the finances and suspended her in an ill-fated attempt to win back what she had spent. Hopkins was later arrested and confessed to having a gambling addiction.
A failed gamble
A hearing in Cardiff Crown Court Wednesday heard a variety of information pertaining to the case. The session started by detailing Hopkins’ history working for Safer Wales, an organization that had received government grants and local police funding for 20 years.
In October 2020, finance officer Sally Woodley cornered Hopkins about changes in her sick pay, but found that she already received an advance of £600 ($723). According to Prosecutor Tabitha Walker, Woodley notified higher-ups, who confirmed that the advance was unauthorized.
The very next month, suspicious activity was flagged in Hopkins’ account. She was suspended from her desk on November 5 and a deeper probe was launched.
Safer Wales did not manage to lock Hopkins out of the account
However, Safer Wales did not manage to lock Hopkins out of the account, and she went on to spend another £6,000 ($7,232) on gambling websites and Amazon. She made the transactions under the fictitious name of “N Pearson,” whom Hopkins alleged was a volunteer of the charity.
Disciplinary hearings were held in Hopkins’ absence as she claimed to be suffering from poor mental health. She delivered admissions via email and letter, confessing to mental health struggles for over two years, struggling to cope with the pandemic, feeling overwhelmed with work, and making two attempts on her life.
Arrest and sentencing
Hopkins was arrested with a final count of £47,429 ($57,210) of misappropriated funds. She was shocked to hear the total had climbed that high.
The mother-of-one pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position— the court heard that she was previously of good character.
Safer Wales director of services standards Karen Maxwell said that the investigation rang up an additional £50,000 ($60,285). She said Hopkins’ abuse caused a “significant financial and emotional impact” on the company as the defendant had been a “key and trusted member of staff.”
Victoria Maud, Hopkins’ representative, told the court her client was a “desperate woman.” She also said that the later retrievals of money were mere imprudent efforts to win back the lost allocations.
desperate to win the money back and put things right and it was down to this she covered thing up”
“She found herself in a downward spiral,” said Maud. “The more money taken the greater the gambling addiction became and the more she lost the greater she needed to win. She was desperate to win the money back and put things right and it was down to this she covered thing up.”
Maud also stated that her client’s actions were that “of an addict” and “not done through greed.”
Judge Paul Hobson delivered his verdict during sentencing.
“You put your gambling addiction over and above the charity that employed you and the good causes they support,” said Hobson. “It was thoroughly selfish behavior and such behavior is richly deserving of going to immediate prison.”
Hopkins was condemned to two years in prison and 200 hours of unpaid work. She will also have to complete a ten-day rehabilitation assignment.