THE owners of a Chorley nursery have been left outraged after a former employee stole £35,000 to splash out on designer shoes and dresses.
Danielle Oddie, 24, used her position as accounts clerk for a children’s nursery to pocket childcare payments made by parents to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Oddie’s greed cost two employees their jobs and a number of other nursery staff sought employment elsewhere, fearing the nursery would be forced to close as a result of her stealing.
Oddie sobbed in the dock as Hilary Banks, prosecuting, outlined the case against her.
Oddie, who was taken on as an accounts clerk for Willow House Nursery, in Adlington, in March 2010, started stealing from the company, owned by Roy and Marie Kirkham, within weeks of starting work.
Initially she stole to pay off credit cards and loans, but over an 18-month period pocketed more than £35,000.
In September 2011, a query led Mr Kirkham to check the banking slips from the previous day, where he discovered only £525 of £1,287 cash handed to Oddie had been paid in to the company account.
Mrs Banks told the court: “Over some period of time it had appeared to him and to members of staff that Miss Oddie had always presented at work immaculately dressed and had sometimes boasted of purchases of expensive personal beauty treatments, expensive shoes and designer clothes.”
Oddie had two part-time jobs, as a cheerleading coach and selling Body Shop products at home.
Mr Kirkham reported the matter to police, initally believing £2,000-3,000 was missing from the company.
But after hours of checking, he calculated the theft to be around £47,000.
In police interviews, Oddie admitted her crimes, telling officers she “got carried away” and had bought shoes and designer dresses.
She pleaded guilty to theft on the basis she took £35,000 from the company.
Mr Kirkham, owner of the nursery with his wife Marie, said: “I was disappointed she didn’t get a custodial sentence because it was a large amount of money.
“The number of thefts – there was something in the region of 100 – in my eyes was overlooked by the court.
“And it’s not over, to be honest, because I still have to try to recover the funds.
“She’s not made any effort to pay back the funds.”
He said he would be discussing the possibility of a civil action against Oddie and an “attachment of earnings” order with his solicitor.
Recorder Mark Ainsworth handed Oddie, of Eden Park, Blackburn, a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, with the conditions she carries out 250 hours’ of unpaid work and accepted an 18-month supervision with the probation service.