SSRI Stories note: Mania and hypomania are listed as side-effects of antidepressants in the Physicians Desk Reference. Mania and hypomania can cause kleptomania.
Gran jailed for £145,000 veterans' charity theft
By Guy Martin
May 04, 2010
A GRANDMOTHER who conned the veterans’ charity she worked for out of legacies worth more than £145,000 has been sent to jail.
Susan Platt, of Addlestone, paid cheques from two wills into a bank account she created while working for the Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society, now operating as Combat Stress, in Leatherhead.
The 58-year-old pleaded guilty to four counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception and was jailed for 18 months by Guildford Crown Court on Friday.
She had been “hard-working and caring” in serving the charity as an administrator and facilities manager for seven years prior to the offences, and felt a “great sense of shame” for her actions, the court was told.
The offences dated back to 2000, when a bank account was created under the name ALESSF, taken to be the ex-servicemen’s fund of the charity’s former premises at Amberley Lodge.
Although Platt, from Wey Court in Addlestone, said she did use some of the money in the account to buy items for veterans, prosecutor Carolyn Graham said she also benefited personally from the con to the tune of £110,695.87.
One of the legacies was those of George Carroll, who died in January 2001, and later that year Platt paid in a £50,000 cheque from his will into her account along with another of £49,000 and a third for £1,223.73, Ms Graham said.
The will of Harry Butcher, who died in March 2000, was also cheated when a cheque of more than £45,000 was paid in, the court heard.
Ms Graham read a victim impact statement from the charity explaining it provided treatment and welfare for veterans suffering mental health problems.
It added that demand for the charity’s services since 1999 had doubled and it had been in an “extremely vulnerable financial situation” when it should have received the money, which would have reduced its £362,000 deficit by 42%.
Ms Graham added: “When this is public knowledge it’s not good for the charity; when people hear that money they have given to it has been used and defrauded.”
The offences only came to light after Platt had left the charity, and she was not interviewed about them until February 2008.
Richard Button, defending, told the judge: “I acknowledge these offences represent a gross breach of trust.
“But I ask that your honour take into consideration my client’s plea of guilty, she made admissions in interview.
“She does take full responsibility for her actions, offences which sicken and disgust her now. She did live the life of a right-minded and decent person for many years.
“She has no previous convictions and no convictions since.”
Platt's barrister said that at the time of the offences she had a legitimate grudge against the management at her work, where she was under pressure and suffering from depression, for which she had taken medication.
“But she knew what she was doing,” Mr Button admitted. “She felt that one day she would be held to account for what she had done.
“She does feel a great sense of shame towards her victims, but also towards her family who she has let down.”
Platt’s husband of 40 years has petitioned for divorce, with her offences a “highly significant contributory factor” in this, Mr Button said.
He added: “She will receive a settlement that will enable her to pay back the money she took. That is something she wants to do and is determined to do.”
Judge Christopher Critchlow told the defendant: “For the first time in your life, at 58 years of age, you have to be sentenced for a criminal offence.
“You were somebody who was hard-working, and caring for ex-servicemen who needed care because of injuries they sustained.”
The judge described her offences as “mean” and “in breach of a high degree of trust".
He added: “In the last nine years you have suffered from some health problems, you have had depression, you have had stress since 2001, although there was no stress before that, when you committed the first offence.
“These matters are so serious that there must be a term of imprisonment.”
Platt was sentenced to 18 months in jail for each offence, to run concurrently, of which she will serve half. A confiscation hearing will take place on July 2.