Public union officials jailed for conspiracy to steal £100,000 from Unison
4:19pm Friday 19th October 2012 in News
FAMILY members and colleagues,who plotted to steal £100,000 from a Gloucestershire-based trade union branch, have been jailed.
A detailed investigation by Gloucestershire Police into discrepancies in the finances at the Gloucester branch of Unison has led to five members of staff being sentenced for conspiracy to steal.
Karen Elizabeth Boyle, 56, of Helens Close in Cheltenham, her husband Patrick Joseph Boyle, 62, of Helens Close in Cheltenham, daughter Michelle Victorine Oakey, 37, of Richmond Gardens in Longlevens, son-in-law Matthew Jack Oakey, 33, of Richmond Gardens in Longlevens and colleague Karen Marlow, 53, of Rodney Close in Longlevens had previously entered a guilty plea to the offence of conspiracy to steal from another.
They were charged with the offence following an investigation by Gloucestershire Police.
Operation Lira was launched after concerns were raised with police about the use of Unison funds at the branch in July 2009.
The investigation uncovered that the five had used a minimum of £100,000 worth of Unison funds between 2006 and 2009 to pay for a variety of personal expenses.
The payments included the purchase of a large quantity of Easter eggs, champagne and children’s clothing, taxi journeys to and from airports that coincide with the defendant’s holiday and honeymoon dates and vehicle repairs.
At Bristol Crown Court today, Friday October 19, Karen Boyle, whose personal benefit from the crime is believed to be around £40,000, was sentenced to 12 months in custody.
The Judge described her as cynical and manipulative and as the “instigator of dishonesty”. Comment was also passed in court that she was responsible for the corruption of her own daughter.
Michelle Oakey is thought to have gained in excess of £15,000 as a result of the crime and was sentenced to four months in prison.
Karen Marlow was sentenced to six months imprisonment. She is also thought to have personally benefited from the crime to the cost of £15,000.
Patrick Boyle received a three month prison sentence, suspended for two years. He will have to adhere to a curfew between 8pm and 6am for six months, which will be electronically monitored. He was also issued with a prohibited activity order restricting him from entering any bar or pub for the period of two years.
Matthew Oakey was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for two years. He will also have to carry out 240 hours of community service and adhere to a curfew between 8pm and 6am for six months, which will be electronically monitored.
Two officers involved in the investigation, PC Paul Dennis and DC Barbara Banning, were praised by the Judge in relation to what was a very complex case.
Detective Inspector Ian Ginn, who led the investigation, said: “We’re pleased with the result of what was a protracted and detailed investigation and that justice has been done for Unison’s members who give their subscription fees each month for support and guidance on work-related issues.
“Unison have been fully supportive of our investigation and helpful throughout and we’d like to thank them for their assistance, which has helped us bring these offenders to justice.
“We will be looking towards a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act to try and recover their ill-gotten gains, which will begin in March next year.”