A PREES fraudster who was spared jail despite stealing £30,000 from her boss has been given a month to work out how she will pay the money back.

Tracie Brookes, of Mill Street, was given a 21-month jail sentence – suspended for 18 months – in February this year for stealing the money from Prees Heath Forest Nursery, owned by David Gwillam.

Brookes, who stole £30,934.70 in her role as an administrator at the company, faced a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing at Shrewsbury Crown Court – sitting at Telford Justice Centre – on Friday.


Kevin Jones, defending, asked Judge Laura Hobson – who presided over Brooke’s sentencing – for a month’s delay so he and his team could find ways to lessen the impact of potentially paying all the money back to Mr Gwillam.

Mr Jones told the court that one potential way for Brookes to reimburse her victim is through the sale of her house where she lives with her disabled son.

But he also told Judge Hobson that the defence is exploring all options to avoid his client and her son losing their home, but acknowledged that she could expect to pay back the full amount.

Mr Jones indicated that a compensation order could be made to avoid the sale of the property ‘in the best interests of her disabled son’.

Brookes had previously 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.

Her deception was discovered when the company’s credit card, with a limit of £7,000, was declined and Brookes insisted she would pay the money back, but was then signed off by her doctor.

Her replacement then revealed the true extent of her fraud by going through the online banking system she had created.

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At the February sentencing, Judge Hobson, despite not jailing Brookes, also told the court that she did not believe the defendant had shown any remorse and did not feel that accepted she had committed the offence, despite the guilty plea.

At Friday’s hearing, she said: “I can understand the difficulties she is having with her income so I will allow for further time.”

Judge Hobson adjourned the POCA hearing for Friday, June 7.