A property conveyancer who defrauded three of her employers out of more than half a million pounds has been jailed.
Oonagh Grant’s string of offences began in 2011 when she transferred company money into accounts she had control of.
She was handed a two-year suspended sentence and was banned from working for a solicitors firm.
Two years later, she changed her name to Frances Bernadette Grant and began working as a self-employed conveyance for a law firm in south-east London.
There, Grant, of Altyre Close in Beckenham, redirected funds from the company amounting to £28,000 before being dismissed and reported to the police.
She then was employed by a law firm in Bromley from which she siphoned a total of £222,950 before she was caught after a tip-off from her former employers.
The 57-year-old fraudster was arrested in December 2015, and denied all offences before being released on bail with a condition she does not work for a law firm.
Despite the bail conditions, Grant found a job with another legal firm in Reading – where she again began stealing cash.
When the company was alerted, she was immediately dismissed.
Police arrested Grant for breach of bail conditions in October 2016. She was subsequently charged and remanded in custody.
She was later released on bail by the court to allow for her to undergo planned surgery. She was bailed to appear at Croydon Crown Court on 23 November 2016.
Grant failed to attend this and one further court appearance due to being ‘medically unfit’.
The letters supplied to the court purporting to be from Grant’s GP were identified by detectives to be fraudulent.
A Bench Warrant was immediately issued by Croydon Crown Court and she was arrested on January 15 on suspicion of fraud.
Between 1 January 2014 and 3 August 2016, she stole £536,250 from three companies.
Just one of the three companies was able to recover some of the funds stolen. This was made possible when Grant’s bank account was frozen as a result of the police investigation.
Grant was jailed for five years after being sentenced at on Wednesday at Croydon Crown Court.
She pleaded guilty on to three counts of fraud by false representation and three counts of dishonestly failing to disclose information for personal gain or to expose others to loss at the same court on February 23.
Detective Sergeant Daren Walby of the Met’s Operation Falcon said: “Grant is a serial fraudster who believed that she was above the law; she even went so far as to send fake GP letters to the courts to delay her trial. I’m pleased that today she has received a substantial sentence, which reflects the severity of the crime and her contempt of the judicial system.”
If anyone thinks they may have employed Grant they should contact detectives from the Met’s Operation Falcon unit by dialling 101.