PA stole £850,000 from boss to buy luxury handbags but will pay back just £1

A ‘shopaholic’ PA who stole £850,000 from her property investor boss and spent it on designer handbags and luxury holidays have been order to pay back £1.

Tamara Carter, 49, took the huge sum from Whittinghame Property Investments director Stephen Gale and business partner Paul Marks between 2008 and 2014.

Carter took a total of £859,310 while she was working as a personal assistant for Mr Gale at the firm’s offices as the only employee of the small business.

She was charged in 2016 and originally declined to comment before appearing at the police station months later wearing an Alexander McQueen scarf and admitting the fraud.

Carter admitted fraud at Southwark Crown Court in September 2017 and was jailed for four years. She is currently behind bars.

She had spent thousands at Mulberry for designer handbags as well as lavish holidays to Australia and Dubai.

Gareth Munday, prosecuting, said: ‘The matter is listed for a confiscation.

‘Given the lifestyle the defendant was living before she was aware of these proceedings we accept that she must have spent a great deal of money.

‘She has no assets and we do not seek to draw blood from a stone.’

Judge Christopher Hehir ordered Carter to repay just £1, which means she doesn’t have any assets.

However, if she ever does come into money, whether it is from working, winning the lottery of even just a gift, the court can bring her back.

He said: ‘The defendant had a criminal lifestyle and her total benefit was in the sum of £883,665.20.

‘Her relatable assets are in the sum of one pound.

‘She has one day to pay and will serve one day in prison as a default which will be considered already served.

‘I shall not require the actual production of a pound coin.’

As Mr Gale’s PA, Carter was ‘entrusted’ with the banking activities of the company and given access to Mr Gale’s personal accounts.

The company fell into difficulties during the global financial crash in 2014 and Mr Gale and Mr Marks opted to sell off their property portfolio and shut down the company which they had poured their own money into.

The fraud was discovered after Ealing Council informed Mr Gale he owed them £62,000 which Carter was meant to have paid.

Carter’s boss and his daughter discovered she had diverted the money through three different bank accounts before putting it into her own.

Sentencing Carter in 2017 Judge Christopher Hehir told her: ‘You had a decent salary, as high as £29,000 when you were working full-time, and it is clear to me from what I have been told that Mr Marks and Mr Gale did their best to help you and to help your problems and you repaid them by abusing their trust in the most flagrant way by diverting over £800,000 of the company’s money into your own accounts.’

Carter, of Norwich Road, Claydon, Ipswich, Suffolk, had admitted fraud by abuse of position.

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