A WIGAN rugby league fan cost her employers thousands of pounds by allowing Warriors’ stars to stay in luxury holiday apartments in the Lake District at “hugely reduced rates”, a court has heard.
Lisa Jones, 47, swindled her boss by giving cut-price breaks to players and staff from her favourite team, but the club had no reason to believe that there was anything wrong with the deal, said prosecutor Greg Hoare.
Jones, who worked as estates manager for Pullwood Bay Estates on Windemere Lake’s North-West shore, told police she hoped that having the players staying there would generate such good publicity that other wealthy sports and showbusiness stars would want to go there too, Carlisle Crown Court heard.
She also used the company credit card for the unauthorised expenditure of £1,909, which included Christmas shopping for herself as well as pub meals and a trip on the lake for the players.
But her employer knew nothing about it until he noticed that very little had been paid towards what should have been a £10,000 holiday in which players had filled several apartments at the upmarket resort, prosecuting counsel Greg Hoare said.
Jones, of Vale View, Hawkshead, pleaded guilty to theft and false accounting.
She will be sentenced on Friday after the judge has been told more about a new job she claims to have.
Mr Hoare told the court Jones – who had a previous conviction for deception and had spent 60 days in prison for theft from her insurance company employer in 1999 – had worked for Pullwood Bay Estates since 2008.
“She was plainly a trusted member of staff, entrusted with the general financial running of the site on a day to day basis,” he said.
Defence barrister David Traynor told the court that Jones, a Wigan Warriors supporter, had not benefited personally, other than receiving a few match tickets from some of the players.
He said she had committed the offences at a time when her long-term partner had “cut her adrift” following the break-up of their relationship.
“It was dealing with the pressure of that situation that led her to go astray,” he said.
Mr Traynor said Jones thought it would help the business to be associated with such a successful rugby club.
“She was doing her best to run the business and generate bookings,” he said. “She believed it would assist the company if it had the kudos of the players using the estate on future occasions.”
He said that if the players had not been staying there the apartments would have been empty.