Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Doctors' practice boss jailed over fraud

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A doctors' practice manager who swindled just over £8,000 has been jailed for three months.

Jailing 48-year-old Heather Coard at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Kinney said that despite her claims she did not think she was doing anything wrong, "I cannot and do not accept that she did not realise what she was doing was dishonest".

He declared: "She knew exactly what she was doing."

Last June at the end of her two week trial Coard, from Tullyard Way in Belfast, was convicted of six charges of obtaining a money transfer by deception and 13 further offences of committing fraud by abuse of position on dates between 29 May 2006 and 11 October 2008.

The jury heard that while working as manager at the Rowantree Medical Practice in south Belfast, Coard changed the details in various cheques to pay herself various sums ranging from £200 to £725.

In total over the two year period, Coard stole £8,109.

Coard had claimed she was simply reimbursing herself for money which was spent on equipment and other materials for the practice, was not being dishonest and did not think he had done anything wrong.

Jailing her today however, Judge Kinney took a different view and told Coard she had breached the trust the practice doctors had placed in her.

"She used that trust to steal, effectively over a two year period and that had an effect, not just on those she worked with but also on public confidence that medical practices have the utmost integrity," said the judge.

Having heard how Coard had managed to gather together full restitution for the stolen monies, Judge Kinney also imposed a compensation order for £8,109.

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