Two years in jail for fraud

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A ‘trusted’ member of the St Michael’s Hospice management team has been jailed for cheating the charity out of £115,000.

Andrea Garrick, 54, of Main Road, Icklesham, was sentenced to two years in prison for fraud and money laundering at Lewes Crown Court this week.

Garrick diverted funds left to the charity in the will of a 70 year old Pevensey woman for which she was the sole executor.

Now the police and hospice are attempting to recover the funds by placing a charge on Garrick’s property.

She was was a former member of staff, having been employed in a senior capacity from 1998 to 2013.

Julian Avery, President of St Michael’s Hospice, said “Andrea Garrick was a trusted member of our Senior Management Team and the decision to report the incident to the Police was made with a heavy heart, but we were duty bound to take action.”

The crime took place when Garrick was made executor to the will of Nola Harmer.

Mrs Harmer, 70, of Pevensey, bequeathed the bulk of her estate to St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards, before she died in January 2011 and even set aside £5,000 for Garrick.

Garrick used some of the funds to refurbish her home and towards mortgage repayments and holidays.

Ryan Richter, prosecuting, said there were receipts in the accounts for refurbishments to Mrs Harmer’s property in order to sell the house.

In fact they were receipts for refurbishments in Garrick’s home.

“A substantial amount of money had been spent in renovating Mrs Garrick’s own property, together with bill payments and holidays,” he said.

Adam James, defending, said: “The bulk of the money went toward the refurbishment of the property. The rest was in relation to mortgage arrears.”

He also said there had been ‘a death bed request’ by the deceased to the defendant, although he did not divulge the nature of the request.

Mr James referred to Garrick’s previous good character and work in the community, but said her career had come to ‘a dreadful end’.

Garrick admitted diverting the money which had been left to St Michael’s Hospice at Brighton Magistrates Court on October 6.

On Monday, she was told by judge Paul Tain at Lewes Crown Court she would serve one year in prison, and a second year on licence.

He said, “When you take of the responsibility of being an executor you are in a trust relationship, both in regards to the instructions of the deceased person, but also the beneficiaries of the estate.

“You must have known what you were doing was wrong.

“You must have had a sense you would get away with it.”

Julian Avery said: “We have a public duty to make sure we respect every donation made to the Hospice and take these responsibilities very seriously.

“This prosecution brings to an end a very unfortunate episode which, in addition to the large financial impact, has caused a great deal of pain and distress for Trustees, members of staff and many others who support St Michael’s Hospice in so many ways.”