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Mother's 'living hell' over nanny

Published 19/06/2015

Zoe Appleyard-Ley at the Old Bailey for the court case against her nanny Emma Currie
Zoe Appleyard-Ley at the Old Bailey for the court case against her nanny Emma Currie

A wealthy mother wept as she described her "living hell" at the hands of a "Mary Poppins" nanny who was jailed for nine months for theft.

Investment banker Zoe Appleyard-Ley said her two "magical children" had been robbed of their innocence when Emma Currie used her bank card to steal £900 cash and disappeared in her Mercedes car.

Following an Old Bailey trial, Currie, 45, was convicted of the theft and attempting to withdraw £400 more on June 17 2013.

But the jury, which deliberated for 13 hours, could not decide on charges she stole Mrs Appleyard-Ley's car and £170,000-worth of valuables including jewellery, clothes, ornaments and electrical items.

They were also hung on three counts of fraud relating to an alleged £500 spending spree at Oliver Bonas, Superdrug and Boots and an attempted fraud at Monsoon amounting to £579.

The prosecution announced today that it would not seek a retrial and Currie was jailed for nine months and handed a restraining order to stay away from the Appleyard-Ley family.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC rejected calls for a suspended sentence for the "one-off" crime in part because of the way she conducted herself in the trial.

As part of her defence, Currie had falsely accused her employer of trying to pull off an insurance scam, taking drugs, and abusing her children - even though a social services investigation concluded it was a malicious complaint.

Reading a victim impact statement, Mrs Appleyard-Ley, dressed in a cream silk shirt and pencil skirt, had become overcome with emotion as she described Currie as a woman of "conniving, malicious charm".

Supported in court by her husband Sven Ley, she said: "There are no words to describe the depth of the trauma and the short, medium and long-term effects that the cruelty of Emma-Jane Currie has had on me and my magical two young children who were four and six at the time of her ruthless theft.

"The courage and bravery of my children despite Emma-Jane Currie's treachery that day of her theft will bring me to tears for as long as I live.

"She knowingly robbed them of their innocence and faith in human nature from the one place they were safe, their own home, where she had been in a position of absolute trust."

Mrs Appleyard-Ley described the three-day trial as a "living hell" as Currie attempted to justify her crime during the trial "by painting a portrait of a monster".

Currie, who claimed to have worked for Middle Eastern royalty in the past, had "wilfully" lied, knowing everything she said could be reported in the media, she said.

Mrs Appleyard-Ley concluded: "Nobody is perfect but I don't think there is a mother alive who is all the things I have been accused of being - and no, the Saudi royal family was not on her CV."

The trial had heard how Mrs Appleyard-Ley, from Belgravia, thought she had found her own "Mary Poppins" when she hired Currie to be her live-in nanny through Gumtree in May 2013.

But on June 17 of that year, she was accused of taking £170,000 worth of valuables and driving away in her employer's Mercedes.

Mrs Appleyard-Ley reported the theft of items including iPads and a laptop after Currie failed to bring her a cup of tea in the morning, jurors were told.

Currie was still driving around in the Mercedes ML350 when police pulled her over near Gatwick the next day.

After her arrest, Currie told police she took the car "as my employer owes me money", adding that she had worked for three weeks without a day off and had not been paid for a "very long time".

She went on to claim she had consent to drive the Mercedes to the south coast to look for a mobile home to live in after handing in her notice to Mrs Appleyard-Ley on the agreement she would return it later.

She described the allegation she had stolen jewellery as "preposterous", adding: "My personal feeling is that this is in the guise of getting a nice insurance claim for the person involved, the employer."

She claimed: "This whole thing is a bit of a hoax with the jewellery because I've never seen expensive jewellery.

"One of her friends said 'have you noticed she never eats, she scrimps to save for the children's school fees'. She may well have pawned it or sold it but I have never seen that jewellery, I have no knowledge of it."

Giving evidence, Currie also explained she had clothes from the Appleyard-Ley home in the Mercedes because she had been asked to take them to be dry cleaned.

And she claimed that she had bought goods using her employer's credit card in shops such as Oliver Bonas because she had been asked to buy presents for her children's teachers and friends.

After the sentencing, Mr Ley defended his wife, saying: "Zoe is not just a good mum, she is Supermum. She has put our children and their best interests before her own since the day they were born. The children adore her.

"I am proud to support Zoe in the lens of a brutal system which seems to allow the victim to become the villain."

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