£100k theft mum Natalie Akinola is jailed after partying in Ibiza as firm went bust
A mum who stole almost £100,000 from her company – and had her fingers in the till as she partied in Ibiza – has been jailed.
Natalie Akinola took so much money from ESS Birmingham that the Saltley-based electrical contractor went bust and six workers – including her brother – lost their jobs.
The 32-year-old accessed the company’s system to take cash during her sunshune holiday and even stole wedding gift money meant to help pay staff wages.
Company owner Russell Blackburn was left with a £30,000 debt when the firm crashed, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
Akinola, of Owens Croft, Kings Norton , had previously admitted the theft of £97,168.
She was jailed for 18 months.
Passing sentence Judge Murray Creed said: “There is a really high degree of trust.
“I believe it was sophisticated and planned over a sustained period.”
Akinola was responsible for the daily running of the ESS office as well as its accounts and payments to suppliers.
An investigator hired by Mr Blackburn last August to look into the firm’s money troubles found cash was being funelled into an account linked to Akinola.
The firm was already the subject of a county court judgement for £3,700, while Mr Blackburn had taken out a £12,000 loan which did little to plug the black hole.
Akinola helped herself to the cash even as she attended the hen party of Mr Blackburn's wife, Lyn.
Gerry Bermingham, prosecuting, said Akinola’s dishonesty ultimately led to the demise of ESS.
Akinola told police she stole the money to pay off someone else’s gambling debt, as well as unsecured loan sharks.
The court heard she had a previous conviction in 2004 for stealing £350 from her then-employer Monsoon.
Sukhdev Garcha, defending, said: “There was no attempt to divert the funds into the accounts of others.
“There is remorse and she is the sole carer for her dependent children.”
Mr Garcha said Akinola got into a “vicious circle” and was spending money she did not have.
He said: “She is aware the consequences of her actions have a ripple effect on others.
“Not only Mr Blackburn but her brother, who was employed at the same company and has lost his job, and her children, who have been put at risk of losing their mother.”
After the hearing Mr Blackburn, aged 44 and from Maypole, welcomed the jail term.
He said: “I feel sad for her children but the sentence is deserved.
“It has been absolutely devastating for everyone involved.
“It was devastating to learn what she had done and she only owned up to it at the last minute.
“The way it was hidden was quite sophisticated.
“It took a trained accountant several weeks to uncover what she had done.