A 'callous' South Yorkshire Police employee, who stole over £98,000 from the force to cover her tracks after 'frittering away' tens of thousands of pounds put aside for her vulnerable mother's care, has been put behind bars.
'You should have thought of your family when you committed these callous crimes'
During a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court today (Thursday, August 9), Judge Rachael Harrison jailed Jacqueline Fletcher for two years, eight months after the 48-year-old admitted stealing a total of £275,875 from South Yorkshire Police and her vulnerable mother over a period of five years.
Responding to Fletcher's plea for leniency for the sake of her immediate family, Judge Harrison said: "You should have thought about them when you committed these callous crimes. That money should have gone on your mother's care."
Fletcher, of Boundary Walk, Brinsworth, Rotherham stole £98,500 from the safe at Attercliffe police station, where she worked as a property manager, in 2013.
But her theft was only discovered in 2017, when the force was involved in a proceeds of crime hearing and realised that all but £1,500 of the £100,000 Fletcher was supposed to have banked had vanished.
Fletcher's theft from SYP, where she worked for over 25 years, was carried out in a bid to conceal the money she had stolen from her mother, the court heard.
The theft from her elderly mother
The court heard how Fletcher's mother, Mary, was put into Athorp Lodge, in Dinnington in 2010 after being diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer's.
In 2011, Fletcher received £116,527 from the sale of her mother’s property, which was supposed to be spent on Mary's care home fees. Of this money, £68,624.26 was paid towards the fees, with about £15,000 given to other family members.
Between October 2011 and July 2016 also stole £63,548 in pension and allowance benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions that also should have been spent on her mother's care home fees.
Judge Harrison said Fletcher 'frittered away' the money she stole from her mother on holidays and credit card bills.
Judge Harrison described how instead of showing remorse when given the opportunity by the author of her pre-sentence report, Fletcher attempted to 'minimise' what she had done.
She said: "If mum wasn't spending it, then she didn't need it."
The court heard how when Fletcher stopped paying Mary's care home bills in 2016, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council was forced to step in and has been paying them ever since.
'Dad would be spinning in his grave if he knew what Jacqueline had done'
Speaking after the hearing, Jacqueline's devastated sister, Lynn, welcomed the sentence: "I hope she gets to suffer like she's made my mum suffer," said Lynn.
She added: "My dad passed away nine years ago. He worked hard all of his life to save the money for that house, and she's gone through the lot. He'd be spinning in his grave if he knew what she's done."
''The money she stole could have paid for four police officers'
The court heard how the £98,500 Fletcher pocketed from the safe at Attercliffe police station was not insured, meaning the force is unlikely to ever recover the stolen cash.
Through a victim impact statement read out in court, Chief Superintendent Shaun Morley, described how Fletcher's theft hit the force particularly hard because it came at a time when money was so tight several officers had been forced to take voluntary redundancy.
“Financially, the impact of Fletcher’s theft is significant, especially in times of austerity. To place the theft of £98,500 into context, this could pay for four newly appointed Police Constables for a whole year," said Chf Supt Morley, who was District Commander for Sheffield at the time Fletcher’s crimes came to light.
He added: “The public can have every confidence that the swift and decisive action taken by our officers to investigate this matter once it was brought to our attention demonstrates our commitment to upholding the law and bringing criminals to justice, regardless of where they work or have worked previously.”
Defending, Andrew Jepson, said Fletcher's deception was 'not particularly sophisticated' because she always knew she was going to get caught.
"She knew there would be financial records that would always place the blame on her. After taking the cash from the safe in Attercliffe police station, she goes straight to the bank at Meadowhall in her own bank account. She went straight there, knowing there would be CCTV that would show her counting £20 notes," said Mr Jepson.
He added: "This became like a snowball that continued to get bigger and bigger."
Fletcher remained silent as Judge Harrison sent her down to begin her 32 month sentence.
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Anna Sedgwick said: “While Fletcher admitted her crimes before a court last month, she has not shown any remorse for her deceitful and criminal behaviour.
“She abused the trust placed in her by the force, as well as exploiting her vulnerable elderly mother, for massive sums of money. Her conduct has been truly despicable and I am pleased she has now received a custodial sentence for her crimes.
“Despite our best efforts throughout the course of our investigation, we have not been able to recover any of the money Fletcher stole. A POCA investigation is ongoing.
“The public of South Yorkshire absolutely expect our employees to behave professionally, honestly and with integrity. Fletcher has behaved disgracefully and I hope the public are reassured by the action taken by our officers to thoroughly investigate this matter and hold this individual to account.”