Borehamwood woman receives suspended sentence for stealing from Royal British Legion and Sunday Club

Borehamwood Times: Gillian Fowler Gillian Fowler

A woman has walked free from court after she received a suspended sentence for stealing nearly £15,000 from charities.

Gillian Fowler, 71, of Tallis Way, Borehamwood, was today given 21 months in jail suspended for 21 months, when she appeared at St Albans Crown Court.

Fowler pleaded guilty to stealing £3,824 from The Sunday Club in Borehamwood between February 2009 and April 2013, while she was treasurer.

She also took responsibility for stealing £10,659 from the Royal British Legion in Borehamwood, where she was also treasurer.

Fowler had helped found the Sunday Club, which raises money for Peace Hospice Care, a charity that cares for the terminally ill, in 1999.

Prosecution barrister Ian McLoughlin described how on February 10, 2009 she forged the signature of the club’s co-founder Tom Connaughton in order to cash a cheque worth £1,600 at the HSBC bank.

She proceeded to take small amounts of money from the account at regular intervals through cashing forged cheques, and was only stopped when Mr Connaughton discovered there was £17.91 in the charity's account instead of the £2,500 he was expecting.

Fowler, who was treasurer of the Royal British Legion in Shenley Road for three years, stole half the club’s £6,600 membership fees for 2012-13, walking away with £3,279, three quarters of which was cash.

She also forged the signature of the British Legion’s chairman David Lowther to cash eight cheques for a total of £7,380 between April and August last year.

The theft was discovered after Mr Lowther noticed the club’s low bank balance and queried Fowler about it. She said she would “look into it”, but he went to the bank in August and discovered the thefts.

Mr McLaughlan said Fowler’s position had involved a “high degree of trust” which she had exploited, and therefore she should receive between 12 months and three years in jail.

Speaking in mitigation, defence barrister Lee Halliday-Davis, said the mother of one, who had a previous conviction dating from 1980, had tried to create a good name for herself, despite battling with alcoholism and an abusive husband.

Fowler, who retired in 2008 from jobs in PR, was in financial difficulty after surviving on three small pensions amounting to around £935 per month, and owed money to pay day lender Wonga.

Miss Halliday-Davis described Fowler’s poor mental health, adding she was being treated for depression, anxiety and possible Parkinsons and had attempted suicide when she was arrested in October last year.

She also said Fowler had had no recollection of the offences but had nonetheless pleaded guilty.

She added: “In October Ms Fowler made a serious suicide attempt. She is a Roman Catholic and she said the thought of taking her own life made her sick, which shows how low she was.

“She felt sorry, ashamed and was finding life difficult because her good name has been exposed as a sham.

“She asked to apologise to the Royal British Legion and the Sunday Club. She is sorry and knows the seriousness of the offence.

“In view of the remorse she has shown I ask for her sentence to be suspended.”

In pronouncing his sentence, Judge Warner said Fowler’s crimes were “thoroughly mean” as she had carried out a “significant breach of trust” over a long time.

He told Fowler: “Given your previous sentence, there is clearly a dishonest streak in your character which has re-emerged.

“These are extremely serious offences and there is no doubt in my mind that in fact you deserve imprisonment.

“There are mitigating features, not for your offences, but your health and your age as well as the difficult financial circumstances you find yourself in. For these reasons alone it seems to me a suspended sentence is appropriate.

“If you commit a crime within 21 months you will go to prison, where you deserve to go for what you have done.”

Comments (11)

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6:18pm Thu 6 Mar 14

save the wood says...

another joke of a judge, soon you will see her walking around the wood as if she had done nothing wrong. a kick in the teeth to charity fundraisers, should have been sent to broadmoor if that mentally ill
another joke of a judge, soon you will see her walking around the wood as if she had done nothing wrong. a kick in the teeth to charity fundraisers, should have been sent to broadmoor if that mentally ill save the wood
  • Score: 27

10:50pm Thu 6 Mar 14

Sunny_D_Wood says...

This is truly shocking! How can this woman, this thief, get away with stealing so much money from several charities? This is UNFORGIVABLE!

What? So if we all run into financial difficult should we go on the rob, too? Condoning this behaviour is ludicrous, and what's more £935 per month seems OK to get by on - how much does she need to have to live? Obviously got used to stealing and to the high life. So many good, decent, honest people get by on far less and do not go on the rob.

Poor mental health?! Where's the proof? Treated for depression?! By who?! Possible suicide?! This is a mockery of the whole judicial system! Should we all plead mental insanity when we want a bit of extra cash?!

No recollection of the offences - my goodness gracious, this gets better by the minute.

And the best line of all: She is a Roman Catholic and she said the thought of taking her own life made her sick, which shows how low she was.
So what, being a Roman Catholic is supposed to make you not commit suicide?! Pleading religion and insanity - making even more of a mockery of the whole affair.

This woman is a sham, an absolute disgrace - she should be made to PAY BACK EVERY PENNY OF WHAT SHE HAS STOLEN!
This is truly shocking! How can this woman, this thief, get away with stealing so much money from several charities? This is UNFORGIVABLE! What? So if we all run into financial difficult should we go on the rob, too? Condoning this behaviour is ludicrous, and what's more £935 per month seems OK to get by on - how much does she need to have to live? Obviously got used to stealing and to the high life. So many good, decent, honest people get by on far less and do not go on the rob. Poor mental health?! Where's the proof? Treated for depression?! By who?! Possible suicide?! This is a mockery of the whole judicial system! Should we all plead mental insanity when we want a bit of extra cash?! No recollection of the offences - my goodness gracious, this gets better by the minute. And the best line of all: She is a Roman Catholic and she said the thought of taking her own life made her sick, which shows how low she was. So what, being a Roman Catholic is supposed to make you not commit suicide?! Pleading religion and insanity - making even more of a mockery of the whole affair. This woman is a sham, an absolute disgrace - she should be made to PAY BACK EVERY PENNY OF WHAT SHE HAS STOLEN! Sunny_D_Wood
  • Score: 27

11:53pm Thu 6 Mar 14

Andrew_L says...

Fraud shouldn't carry a suspended sentence.. This lady doesn't even get a community service order - our justice system is complete utter joke. However i found a document about the sentencing of fraud: http://www.cps.gov.u
k/legal/s_to_u/sente
ncing_manual/fraud/
Fraud shouldn't carry a suspended sentence.. This lady doesn't even get a community service order - our justice system is complete utter joke. However i found a document about the sentencing of fraud: http://www.cps.gov.u k/legal/s_to_u/sente ncing_manual/fraud/ Andrew_L
  • Score: 20

6:38am Fri 7 Mar 14

cowboy2 says...

I was at the court to see the outcome of this case and was SHOCKED to see the judge sum up with pity for this person . She was definatly O. K. when committing these thefts , only to be remorseful after being CAUGHT !
Shame .
I was at the court to see the outcome of this case and was SHOCKED to see the judge sum up with pity for this person . She was definatly O. K. when committing these thefts , only to be remorseful after being CAUGHT ! Shame . cowboy2
  • Score: 24

9:37am Fri 7 Mar 14

arturon says...

Yet another case of CRIME DOES PAY. What difference does it make if she is 71. She is still a scumbag thief and should be spending time in prison. The money should also be paid back in full. I expect she will be asking for her job back next.
Yet another case of CRIME DOES PAY. What difference does it make if she is 71. She is still a scumbag thief and should be spending time in prison. The money should also be paid back in full. I expect she will be asking for her job back next. arturon
  • Score: 13

1:35pm Fri 7 Mar 14

scovill says...

I thought she was of good character as a former local councillor and instrumental member of the Organ Hall residents association who helped organise a really great party of the golden Jubilee recently. Lives a few roads away from me.
I thought she was of good character as a former local councillor and instrumental member of the Organ Hall residents association who helped organise a really great party of the golden Jubilee recently. Lives a few roads away from me. scovill
  • Score: 3

5:30pm Fri 7 Mar 14

premium says...

What a disgraceful sentance....
She swanned around Borehamwood and Radlett like an upright citizen,,,,
Her best buddies were Councillors Mayors and she was even welcomed into Rotary,,,,,What a joke....
She was trusted by Charities to help with their finances.....She performed at the Ark Open Mike , with her musical friend ....
What a pillar,,,,
I hope she leaves Borehamwood as all the wonderful people she robbed should not have to see her walking around free...
Some barrasters have no conscience.....good old legal aid..
Shame on the system.....
What a disgraceful sentance.... She swanned around Borehamwood and Radlett like an upright citizen,,,, Her best buddies were Councillors Mayors and she was even welcomed into Rotary,,,,,What a joke.... She was trusted by Charities to help with their finances.....She performed at the Ark Open Mike , with her musical friend .... What a pillar,,,, I hope she leaves Borehamwood as all the wonderful people she robbed should not have to see her walking around free... Some barrasters have no conscience.....good old legal aid.. Shame on the system..... premium
  • Score: 18

5:53pm Fri 7 Mar 14

david Burcombe says...

People used to trust British justice. I am disgusted that a thief is allowed to go free. No matter what her age she did the crime so she should do the time.
I am the same age as her and if I was involved in a criminal act I would not expect a lenient sentence.
A man stole a bike first offence was sent to prison for a month
A woman it was alleged was seen walking naked through the street she was committed to a mental institution.
Fowler by name and character.
I hope she will pay back the charities but I doubt it.
What was wrong with the judge by not sending her to jail. She has stolen before it was not her first offence.
People used to trust British justice. I am disgusted that a thief is allowed to go free. No matter what her age she did the crime so she should do the time. I am the same age as her and if I was involved in a criminal act I would not expect a lenient sentence. A man stole a bike first offence was sent to prison for a month A woman it was alleged was seen walking naked through the street she was committed to a mental institution. Fowler by name and character. I hope she will pay back the charities but I doubt it. What was wrong with the judge by not sending her to jail. She has stolen before it was not her first offence. david Burcombe
  • Score: 18

6:36am Sat 8 Mar 14

Billy_Boy says...

It's time we had elected Judges - so WE the people decide who gets to hand down sentences. Then perhaps these buffoons will have to take into account what we demand, if they wish to keep their cushy, privileged, overpaid jobs! Some hope!
It's time we had elected Judges - so WE the people decide who gets to hand down sentences. Then perhaps these buffoons will have to take into account what we demand, if they wish to keep their cushy, privileged, overpaid jobs! Some hope! Billy_Boy
  • Score: 12

2:58pm Sun 9 Mar 14

sj6 says...

Let's hope someone remembers to take out a compensation order against this person.
Let's hope someone remembers to take out a compensation order against this person. sj6
  • Score: 6

1:52pm Mon 10 Mar 14

kelvin says...

The stupid Judge needs to go to Prison, on a being really pathetic!!!
The stupid Judge needs to go to Prison, on a being really pathetic!!! kelvin
  • Score: 3

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