Friday 15th May, 2020
A retired accounts worker was jailed for stealing more than £400,000 over nine years from the brewery she was working for.
Lesley Freestone, 65, worked in the accounts department at St Austell Brewery between 1974 and 2016, where she was the Accounts Payable Supervisor.
Freestone admitted fraud and was sentenced to five years at Truro Crown Court last December.
Charges against a co-defendant, were dropped.
Sentencing, Judge Carr said “the fraud had a degree of sophistication, creating a false paper trail to hide money in your accounts”.
He added: “More importantly I know, as all Cornwall knows, how St Austell Brewery has positioned itself in the community and how this will impact everyone who works there”.
The court heard how Freestone had unfettered access to payments systems at the brewery.
It was after her retirement that the brewery conducted a review of its systems, following its purchase of Bath Ales.
This identified hundreds of fraudulent payments diverted to Freestone’s accounts.