A woman who stole £500,000 from her boss to fund a lavish lifestyle including holidays and homes has been ordered to pay him back – just £1 in compensation.
Sneaky Tessa Phillips, 55, was employed as an office manager but used the company cheque book to buy helicopter rides and expensive jewellery.
She forged 170 cheques which she cashed in to secure two mortgages and enjoy foreign trips to Barbados, Dubai and Mauritius.
Phillips, of Plymouth, Devon, stole the money while working at Advanced Hearing Systems Ltd, a hearing aid firm owned by Gary Parker, 51.
He gave her the job as office manager in 2003 but in 2008 he realised she had conned him out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
But despite her ”pure greed”, Phillips has been told to pay her former employer just one pound compensation – the minimum amount that can be awarded.
A court decided on the figure because she had spent all the money and two homes she bought with the cash had been repossessed after she failed to keep up the repayments.
Phillips was jailed for four years after admitting one charge of theft at Plymouth Crown Court – where she claimed she had amnesia and couldn’t remember her crimes.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Parker said: ”Tessa was a lovely person – incredibly helpful and superbly efficient. I trusted her to do her side of the accounting, so this came as a tremendous shock to me.
”She cleaned out the account of a lifetime of work, savings and investments – all I’d been working for since 1988.
”She was signing the Lloyds TSB cheques with a very poorly forged version of my signature, which I would have thought the bank would have spotted.
”I trusted her totally, and she was one of the nicest people I ever met.
”However I can not forgive her and I don’t believe amnesia caused her to forget writing the cheques.
”I think she’s a pathological crook. I might even frame the £1.”
Phillips was given the job at the Plymouth hearing aid supplier in July, 2003 – ten years after it started trading and was turning over around £300,000 a year.
Her duties included paying invoices with company cheques but because Mr Parker was the only person authorised to sign them she forged his signature – stealing up to £10,000 a time.
He noticed a shortfall in company profits in 2006, but did not suspect Phillips until in September 2008 when he spotted large payments which were not accounted for.
Phillips was then confronted and she admitted she had stolen money but couldn’t remember how much, the court heard.
After being sacked and arrested she also admitted to police that she had not been in financial difficulties but stole out of ”pure greed”.
She said that after her husband retired she wanted to maintain her comfortable lifestyle and had bought holidays, jewellery and two homes.
Phillips pleaded guilty at a previous court appearance and at a sentencing hearing on Thursday Judge Francis Gilbert QC ordered a token repayment of £1.
Jo Martin, for Phillips, said her client suffered from psychogenic amnesia, a lack of self esteem and a need to be loved and give to her family.
She said that despite having no memory of the offences, Phillips pleaded guilty and suffered remorse and concern for Mr Parker.
Judge Gilbert told Phillips that Mr Parker had trusted and relied on her, but she had begun stealing amounts of up to £10,000 almost immediately and forged 170 cheques.
The court heard Phillips had previously been jailed for stealing money by false accounting and perverting the course of justice at her previous place of employment
Mr Parker has been able to recoup some of the money from Lloyds TSB who had issued the money from the forged cheques.