Legal secretary who stole treasured items from Hartlepool firm's vaults back in court
A legal secretary who repeatedly raided the firm's vaults stealing clients' treasured collections has avoided jail for the second time
Gambling addict Ebony Thomas,23, was given a suspended prison sentence after she admitted stealing jewellery worth up to £50,000 and priceless family heirlooms being stored at her Hartlepool solicitors' offices.
In June this year she was given an eight-month suspended jail sentence for stealing war medals worth £24,000 from a collection valued at between £100,000 and £2000,000 which 74-year-old Hartlepool expert Harry Taylor started 67 years ago.
The latest discovery of her thieving was made a month after the Teesside Crown Court case when Elizabeth Hume checked her safety deposit box , said prosecutor Chris Baker.
He said: "It was a breach of a high degree of trust and responsibility
"The cost of replacing the items would be in the region of £20,000
"This does not include the irreplaceable items."
Mrs Hume told police the jewellery upon which a figure could be placed was bought for £6,750 between 1995 and 2018.
Michele Turner, defending, said that Thomas had a £3,000 gambling debt at the time, and since her arrest when she had no previous convictions she had found a job in a different field.
She said that Thomas sold 40 medals on Facebook and she had quickly regretted the thefts and she contacted one buyer in Liverpool, but he had refused to sell them back to her.
The judge said that it was the second time that Thomas had stolen property from the solicitors' vaults from March 2020 to January 2021
Recorder Abdul Iqbal QC said: "The jewellery included family heirlooms that had passed down the generations and it was the intention that they be passed down further generations
"It caused huge emotional distress to them. Their loss has caused anxiety, distress and anger."
The judge added: "Had this court had before it the full list of offences it is likely that you may have been sent immediately to prison
"Many members of the public reading about the fact that you stole on two occasions, not one, and had not been sent to custody immediately would perhaps be angered."
Thomas of Eltham Street, Thornaby, was given a 16 months jail sentence suspended for two years and 10 days of rehabilitation activities with 200 hours unpaid work and she was ordered to pay £1,000 compensation after she pleaded guilty to theft.