A DIVORCED mum of two who used her high-ranking job in the Insolvency Service to con clients out of £85,910 has been jailed.
Samantha O'Sullivan, of Davidson Road, Addiscombe, carried out the most "serious breach of trust" when she stole the money over a three-month period to pay off debts amassed following a marital breakdown.
The 44-year-old held the post of assistant official receiver at the insolvency office in Bedford Park, central Croydon.
But Croydon Crown Court heard last Thursday (December 6) that rather than collecting money for the service from insolvent estates, she was asking some clients to write out cheques made payable to her.
She also took more than £3,000 cash.
Olivia Kong, prosecuting, said O'Sullivan admitted the offences in a police interview and explained she was in debt.
The money she made went towards a number of things, including paying some of that debt and giving cash to friends.
Miss Kong said: "Since then she has sold her house and paid back £56,000 to the Insolvency Service, with £29,000 still outstanding."
Abigail Penny, defending, blamed O'Sullivan's former husband for the financial mess she found herself in.
She told the court: "She decided to divorce him. He ran up significant debts on her credit card accounts and it culminated in her paying a substantial amount of money.
"She had significant debt. She had decided to let our her home."
But the court heard the tenants weren't paying rent so her mortgage went into arrears. Miss Penny said: "Now she lives on benefits. Miss O'Sullivan stands before the court with nothing left in terms of dignity and professional standing."
Judge Ruth Downing told O'Sullivan there were "many ways" she could have dealt with her financial situation, without resorting to taking the money in this way.
Judge Downing added: "There are thousands of people in this country who are giving up their homes, giving up their financial investment made in houses bought with savings and hard work in order to cope with financial problems."
She jailed O'Sullivan for a year, although she is likely to serve six months.
O'Sullivan had worked for the insolvency service for 20 years.
She admitted six counts of fraud by abuse of position between February 14, 2011 and May 10, 2011.