Dundonald woman guilty of £200 theft from charity

Joanne Watton cashed a cheque for �200 but the charity never received the money
Joanne Watton cashed a cheque for �200 but the charity never received the money

A Dundonald woman has been found guilty of stealing £200 from a charity where she worked as a financial and administrative assistant.

Joanne Watton, from Inchmarnock Drive, showed no emotion when a jury of eight men and four women convicted her of stealing the money from the Voice Of Young People in Care charity.

During a short trial at Belfast Crown Court, the jury heard how 40-year old Watton – who at the time of the offence worked at the charity’s Botanic Avenue office – cashed a cheque for £200.

She was asked by her manager to use the money to purchase gift vouchers for children and young people who had taken part in a survey.

Whilst she did cash the cheque, Watton went home with the money in her bag that night.

A prosecutor told the jury it was the Crown’s case that after cashing the cheque on May 20, 2014, it was never her intention to return the money.

Denying the charge, Watton claimed she took the money home that night after putting it in the zip compartment of her handbag.

When she was asked the following day about the money, Watton said she went to get the cash from her bag – but realised she had a different bag with her that day and that the money was in the other handbag.

Giving evidence, Watton said that several things occurred in and around the time of May 20 and that the money was the last thing on her mind.

These issues included her son hurting himself at school, moving house, a relationship coming to an end and also both injuring her foot and damaging her phone during the house move.

She also claimed she placed the money in an envelope which she posted from Newtownards and which the charity said they never received.

Following the one-day trial, the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict.

Watton’s defence team asked that a pre-sentence report be obtained ahead of sentencing, which is due to take place next month.