A 32 YEAR OLD PA to the chief executive of Mencap has been found guilty of fraud after she used the charity organisation’s Addison Lee business account to book more than £3,000 worth of private hire trips.
Asra Yildiz’s deception was only uncovered in April 2014 when she inadvertently gave the phone number of her boss, chief executive Jan Tregelles, when she booked a cab home after a night out in Islington.
Ms Tregelles was surprised to receive a text from Addison Lee, saying her vehicle was outside, and ordered an audit to find out what was going on.
Blackfriars Crown Court heard that Yildiz, of Hackney, was sacked by Mencap when the full scale of her fraud was uncovered and she later worked for Public Health England before losing her job after she was arrested and charged with the cab journey fraud at Mencap.
Yildiz also spent £600 on the learning disability charity’s credit cards during a holiday to Tenerife.
Prosecution counsel Richard Mandel told the court:
There can be no question of the expenditure incurred abroad being anything to do with Mencap business. It was basically spending on restaurants, supermarket trips and cab rides. Yildiz was considered a model and outstandingly hard-working employee, until the fraud was uncovered and the audit revealed £3,136 of unauthorised cab trips with Addison Lee.
Judge Peter Clarke QC sentenced Yildiz to three months in prison, suspended for 18 months. He told the former Mencap secretary she must also do 120 hours of community service and pay back £3,600 to the charity within 18 months, adding: “It must go back to the charity so they can spend it on people who need it.”
A spokesman for Mencap said: “The charity is deeply saddened that one of its former members of staff, Asra Yildiz, has been found guilty of fraud. She was in a position of trust, a position that she abused, falsifying expenses and other claims for personal gain.
“Mencap has since reviewed the robustness of its oversight systems as a result of this incident and wants to re-assure it’s donors and supporters that all steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence.”