Letting agent goes to jail after theft of up to £30,000

A woman who stole so much money from tenants that she brought the lettings company she worked for to its knees, has been jailed for 15 months.

Alison Bush has gone to prison with no one knowing exactly how much she had taken.

Bush, 45, was head-hunted from the Heritage Lettings agency in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, by a landlord client, Anne Marie Gillam.

Miss Gillam, who owned a property portfolio in the same town, set up a firm called Townend Letting in 2010 and offered Bush a job.

Swindon Crown Court was told by Colin Meeke, prosecuting: “Her responsibilities were really quite simple: to let the flats in a proper manner, collect deposits, pay them in, check references, making sure properties were let in a fit state and recovered in a fit state.

“Most importantly it was to receive the rents and to account for them. It is the Crown’s submission that this was not a difficult task to perform.

“What became clear was that the defendant stopped managing the properties in a proper manner at a relatively early stage.

“She stopped taking proper references and stopped taking account of who had paid what.”

He said much of the rent was paid in cash, many tenants never got the correct receipts, and after Bush suddenly left, “vast” sums were found to be missing. The Crown believed over £30,000 had been swindled from the company, although Bush said it was only half that.

Bush not only stole rent but a tenant’s tax repayment cheque. She had cashed it using a forged letter.

Miss Gillam said the company had been brought to its knees, and it had taken two years to sort out the mess.

Bush pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and one of fraud.

Jailing her, Recorder Patrick Clarkson QC said: “It is impossible for the prosecution to be exactly sure how much was taken as you were the only person who knew the circumstances of what was taken and how.”

The Wiltshire Times report is here

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