Thief given time to return firm’s cash

Belinda Traves sacked manageress of Holiday Travel in Bridlington ordered to repay �36,000 for defrading the firm for six years.
Belinda Traves sacked manageress of Holiday Travel in Bridlington ordered to repay �36,000 for defrading the firm for six years.

A former travel agency manageress described by a judge as a “thoroughly mean and greedy” must pay back £36,000 of the money she stole or face a further nine months in prison.

Belinda Traves, 51, was jailed in July last year for stealing £13,200 from family-firm Holiday Travel, on the Promenade, in Bridlington.

While stealing she enjoyed holidays in Spain, New York and Euro Disney, a new conservatory and bought her daughter a car for her 18th birthday. She served half her half her sentence in prison before early release, but was forced to appear again at Hull Crown Court (Thursday 8 January) for a Proceeds of Crime hearing.

Her barrister Nicholas Dela Poer initially said the court had no jurisdiction to take the money as it had not instructed a Proceeds of Crime Investigation at the time verdicts were read out in court in July. He said Traves, formerly of Seventh Avenue, Bridlington, was found guilty of three counts of fraud and three of theft, totalling £13,200 but was found not guilty of a fraud by falsifying records, relating to the theft of £83,000 in cash.

Mr Dela Poer said the jury found she had only stolen £13,200 and you could not look behind that verdict to conclude she had led a criminal lifestyle.

Judge Jeremy Richardson, QC, ordered the court record should be checked in a short adjournment as the court computer log had recorded a POCA was agreed.

The mother-of-two was forced to wait outside court as her barrister checked the record and spoke with the Crown Prosecution Service about the case. Traves, who was sacked from Holiday Travel after 11 years had used fellow staff passwords to claim refunds.

During a three-week trial she tearfully claimed the day her husband killed a cyclist she was not at work to commit a £400 fraud which the prosecution claimed she did.

When Mr Dela Poer returned to court he said a settlement had been reached where she would agree her benefit from crime was £36,266. He admitted her realisable assets were worth £82,000, but said the money would come from two sources as well as equity for her house.

Traves who lived in a £170,000 house in Bridlington moved to Castley Lane, Pool-in-Wharfedale, West Yorkshire, after the offence came to light. She insisted there were innocent explanations for her husband’s £28,000 in the bank, £4,000 in cash in the wardrobe and £400 in an envelope. Sentencing her at Hull Crown Court (July 11), Recorder Patrick Palmer told Traves: “I form the view that this was a thoroughly mean offence.

“There was no doubt, the fraud perpetrated was clever, skilful and persistent. There was only one motive. That must have been greed.”

Traves must pay the money within six months which will to Holiday Travel.