THE victim of a Prees fraudster who was spared jail despite stealing £30,000 from a business has said he has been denied justice.

Tracie Brookes, 56 and of Mill Street, was sentenced to 21 months in jail – suspended for 18 months – at Shrewsbury Crown Court on Friday for stealing a total of £30,934.70 from Prees Heath Forest Nursery.

She had admitted that between October 1, 2015, and May 31, 2018, she stole the money by moving it from business accounts to her own personal accounts.


David Gwillam, owner of the business, said that he was left disappointed by Judge Laura Hobson’s decision to not jail Brookes because of personal mitigation.

“We’ve been denied justice,” he said.

“I feel she should have had some of the 21-month custodial sentence and should have served something.

“I suspected and was forewarned that this would happen from the CPS and the barrister but it still doesn’t feel like justice to me.

“She has got no remorse at all for what she has done – she has pleaded guilty but is saying she is not guilty.

“She doesn’t think she has done anything wrong.

“The business has recovered from it – the money was written off but we got through it, we survived it by relying heavily on the bank but are in a stronger position than before.

“Thankfully we’ve got more trees planted and we’re a stronger company than before.

“I don’t think she has a sentence she fully deserves.”

The court heard from prosecutor Michael Aspinall that Brookes’ deception and theft from her ‘good friend’ Mr Gwillam was caught after the company’s credit card was declined and the £7,000 limit reached.

When asked about this, she told him she had used it for personal items and planned to pay back the money, but then was signed off for a month through stress.

A temporary replacement was brought in to manage the online banking, which Brookes had convinced her boss to implement instead of cheques, and they noticed the true extent of the fraud.

Judge Hobson had previously indicated a suspended sentence because of Brookes’ poor mental health, as well as recent personal tragedy and because she was the sole carer for her son.

But she also admitted that she felt the defendant was not remorseful.

She said: “Over that three years you stole that money from your employer who trusted and you took advantage of that trust.

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“When you were found out you made accusations that caused him tremendous hurt and anguish and it impacted on his business.

“You still don’t think you are guilty and I’m not convinced you feel any remorse but you have admitted guilt - albeit late in proceedings.”

A proceeds of crime hearing was scheduled for April 29 and Brookes will have to carry out 20 rehabilitation activity days.