Judge describes Hucknall building society theft case as ‘a tragedy’

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The judge sitting at Nottingham Crown Court described Diane Murfin’s case as “a tragedy” after she was jailed for 12 months for stealing £26,500.

Diane Murfin (46), of Lingford Street, Hucknall, pleaded guilty at Nottingham Crown Court to the theft belonging to her employer, Nottingham Building Society.

She raided the accounts of 71-year-old widow Pamela Phillips and 77-year-old Patricia Jackson, described as well-off but vulnerable.

Judge Head read a probation report on Murfin and also a letter she had submitted to the court.

In passing a sentence of 12 months in jail, he told her: “You had two victims, both elderly, one a widow. They both had significant assets.

“You had face-to-face personal and business relationships with them. You knew they were customers who were not active users of their accounts.

“They were vulnerable by reason of their age and their reliance on you. No doubt they were attractive targets because of their assets.

“I accept that the first theft in September 2011 was to pay for your mother’s care fees.

“But after that, there were 14 cash transactions which continued until you were caught. This was not a case of remorsefully stopping your offences.”

He pointed out that the thefts from Patricia Jackson began at the same time, December 2012, as her business dealings with her.

The judge said he accepted that Mrs Murfin had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

“You did not try to evade responsibilty or divert attention,” he added. “You want to repay the money, which might involve selling your home or surrendering your pension.”

The judge also said he had listened to the pleas by Mrs Murfin’s barrister, Gregor Purcell, to impose a suspended prison-sentence.

“But there are too many aggravating features to suspend the sentence,” the judge said. “These include the targeting of vulnerable and asset-rich victims, the extended period of time of the offending and number of occasions, the forging of signatures and the cross-crediting of transactions to try and cover your tracks.”

As Mrs Murfin was led away to begin her prison-term, her daughter broke down in tears as she sat in the courtroom. “I love you mum!” she cried.