St Albans woman stole £24,000 when working as surgery manager

Court report

Court report - Credit: Archant

Doctors agreed to take a pay cut after a woman who ran their surgery stole nearly £24,000 from their practice.

At St Albans Crown Court last Friday (12) Martha Lain tearfully apologised to partners of a Hemel Hempstead practice, who watched as she received a suspended 16-month prison sentence for theft and was ordered to do 180 hours’ unpaid work.

The 53-year-old, who lived in Hatfield Road, St Albans, at the time she stole from the surgery, sobbed: “I fully deserve whatever sentence the court deems appropriate.”

Lain splashed the money she had fiddled on exotic holidays with her daughter and told the court she had been trying to compete with her ex-husband.

Prosecutor Peter Shaw said Lain had been appointed by the surgery through an agency in April 2015, but later that year went off sick, claiming she was suffering from suspected cancer.

At first the partners and staff were very sympathetic but they became suspicious at the details of her supposed illness and her failure to send financial information to the accountants.

Upon checking the practice’s CCTV footage, Lain could be seen removing documents early in the morning of December 11.

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Police were called, and found Lain and the missing documents at an address in London Colney.

Investigations found she had diverted £23,977 to accounts controlled by her and her daughter.

Mr Shaw said: “Staff were shocked and badly shaken. Staff had taken her into their confidence, which made it all the more shocking.”

He said Lain had been earning £45,000, and would have been given a good Christmas bonus.

To ensure their patients would not suffer as a result of the theft, the partners agreed to cut their own payments, which Mr Shaw said had been particularly difficult for the more junior doctors.

Lain, who has recently moved to the Hatfield area, was not represented in court, but told recorder David Mayall she had been suffering from severe depression and “abuse” from her ex-husband.

The recorder told her that while it could not excuse her behaviour, Lain’s early guilty plea and previous good character justified suspending the 16-month sentence for two years.

Lain, who was also ordered to do 180 hours’ unpaid work, said she was determined to repay the money, which will be enforced by a later court hearing.