Businessman's pity for jailed conwomanBy Paul Cassell
January 14, 2013
A businessman revealed his pity for a conwoman who must repay a third of the £417,882 she swindled from his company or face longer behind bars.
Mother-of-three Diana Cummins, 56, was ordered to pay back £139,309.36 of the cash she stole from Bering Heating Supplies Ltd in Wokingham to fund a lavish lifestyle including holidays to Spain and improvements to her Finchampstead home.
She spent much of the confiscation hearing at Reading Crown Court with her head in her hands or staring anxiously at the floor as she was told to make the repayment in six months or spend further two years and three months inside, last Wednesday.
Cummins, of McCarthy Way, took the money between 2007 and 2010 during a seven-year spell as a bookkeeper for the family firm. She was jailed for three years after admitting four counts of fraud and one of theft at the same court in February last year.
After last week’s hearing Richard Neale, managing director of Bering Heating Supplies, the trading name for Northcourt Garage in Reading, said Cummins’s actions nearly crippled his business but fortunately it had recovered. He said: “I feel very sorry for her because she did it to fund a lifestyle she wanted herself and her family to live, and until this happened she was a friend.
“I was disappointed to think I had been betrayed and angry as to why someone could do this but I have to let it go. .”
Cummins told police she had started to defraud the cash after being diagnosed with breast cancer and her husband being made redundant so they were struggling to pay their mortgage. The court heard Cummins accepted the amount she had to pay back but was concerned how she would recoup the cash having made several ‘tainted gifts’ including a car for her daughter and paying off her husband’s credit cards.
Judge Ian Grainger conceded his hands were tied as he had given Cummins the maximum time to pay back the money but she could make further representations at a later date. Mr Neale, of Wokingham, added: “I cannot say I would be overly pleased to see her now, and she has to take the consequences. I am glad to be getting some of the money back.”