FORMER clerk for Bratton Parish Council, Anita Whittle, has been ordered by Swindon Crown Court to repay over £26,000 within three months, a total she had stolen from the council over a number of years.
Last year, Anita Whittle of Southay, Bratton, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft by employee, fraud by false representation and obtaining property by deception and was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence.
Between May 29th 2013 and December 12th 2015 she stole £11,372.66 from Bratton Parish Council during her time as parish clerk and a further £600 between April 1st 2014 and April 6th 2015.
Further, she stole £13,107.63 over a time period from January 14th 2007 to July 31st 2016 which was being paid into the Wiltshire Council’s pension fund for her own personal use.
She also stole £1,821.01 between the dates of December 1st 2005 and February 15th 2007.
The scandal was discovered by Bratton Parish councillor Jeff Ligo, who after joining the council in July 2016, found serious anomalies with the accounting procedures in the council. At his first meeting, ø Ligo identified that the papers in relation to the financial year 2015/16, which the clerk was asking the council to approve for submission to the council’s external auditor, were incomplete and unsatisfactory.
On Wednesday 25th July Anita Whittle attended Swindon Crown Court for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, which had previously been adjourned several times.
The outcome from the hearing was Anita Whittle has been ordered by the judge to repay £26,900 to Bratton Parish Council within a three-month period. However, she can appeal this decision within 28 days of the hearing date.
Jeff Ligo, chairman of Bratton Parish Council said, “We are glad that the people of Bratton now know that the parish is getting the money back which they are owed. This situation has led to much criticism of the council and we hope this demonstrates we will get the money back.”
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