Thief to pay back just £2k
07 Nov 2012A TRUSTED employee who stole almost £68,000 from a family-run hotel will have to pay back just 3.3% of what she took.
Mother of two Charlotte Owen was sentenced in July to 18 months behind bars after she admitted taking cash to the value of £67,699 from Hempstead House Hotel and Spa.
But on Friday, she was ordered by Maidstone Crown Court to pay £2,250 under a Proceeds of Crime Confiscation Order.
She has just 28 days to pay the money, or face a further 30 days in prison.
Owen, who was employed between October 2008 and December 2011, first took enough cash to pay the mortgage on her Sittingbourne home, but after finding how easy it was she became more daring.
Over the course of three years, she splashed out on two horses at a total of £1,900, three puppies - one costing £650 - a Land Rover Free-lander car, hotel breaks for her and her husband in London at Christmas and holidays.
The gross breach of trust left business owner Mandy Hold-stock devastated.
In a statement, she told how Owen had been a close family friend and her "betrayal" meant the hotel would take many years to recover the financial loss.
Owen's duties included banking funds from various hotel departments. Alarm bells rang in last December, when a £1,700 deposit went missing from the safe. That evening, Owen went to Mandy Holdstock's private quarters and confessed.
She at first claimed it was the first time she had taken money but then admitted she could have stolen around £50,000.
Police discovered money paid into Owen's building society account between 2008 and 2011 totalled almost £66,000. Her home was searched where £1,050 was found.
Speaking before sentencing in July, prosecutor Bridget Todd said: "She admitted taking the money but could not remember how many times. It was to pay for debts and help with finances, but the temptation grew and she took money for no apparent reason."
Speaking after the confiscation order ruling, Mrs Hold-stock said: "It's £2,250 more than I thought I was going to get. As far as I'm concerned, it's over and done with."