AN OFFICE manager who stole more than £50,000 of renters' money to feed a gambling addiction has avoided an immediate jail term.

Kelsey Johnson, who worked for Holker Estates in Barrow, swiped £57,000 rent from residents of the Devonshire Buildings apartments in Barrow over a four-year period.

The 47-year-old, of Raleigh Street in Barrow, appeared at Preston Crown Court yesterday where she was handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.


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The court heard Johnson was made office manager of Holker Estates in Cark in 2010.

In 2014 she worked alone managing the business at Devonshire Buildings and the tenants’ accounts.

The court was told her role involved collecting cash payments for rent from tenants.

But in August 2018 Holker Estates noticed the tenants’ arrears had built up and that 80 per cent of them were behind on rent.

On December 3 2018, Johnson confessed to bosses she had been stealing money for years.

Allen Gibb, chief executive of Holker Group, said: “The security and welfare of our tenants, employees and businesses are vitally important to Holker Group.

“We were both surprised and saddened when we originally uncovered the actions of our former employee, Ms Johnson. We immediately alerted the police to our findings, and have cooperated with their investigations throughout.

“Following a detailed forensic review of operations, a number of changes have been put in place including the transition to a completely cashless operation, thereby ensuring complete transparency surrounding every single transaction at Devonshire Buildings.

“We have taken great care and diligence to recreate tenant accounts and we assure all involved that, whilst we will continue to pursue legitimate arrears, our positive relationship with existing tenants will not change.

“We would like to extend our apologies to residents who have been affected by this situation and would encourage anyone with ongoing concerns to contact the Devonshire Buildings Office in the first instance.”

She had previously pleaded guilty to taking the money between April 2014 and November 2018.

She was also told to complete 80 hours unpaid work and five days rehabilitation.