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UEA employee could face jail for £50,000 theft

University of East Anglia administrator, Sophie O’Hara, could face imprisonment after pleading guilty at Norwich Crown Court to stealing more than £50,000 from the university.

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Photo: EDP

O’Hara, 26, is believed to have acquired the money through forging student expenses forms, during her employment at UEA between March 2012 and October 2013.

Judge Stephen Holt stressed the crucial importance of O’Hara abiding to her probation, saying: “You have pleaded guilty to a serious matter.” Holt alerted that all decisions on sentencing, including prison, were open to the court.

Chris Youell prosecuting has asked for a delay in the hearing into O’Hara’s assets because of necessary investigations into the location of the missing cash.

He said: “Police are trying to find where the £50,000 has gone. I don’t think she has too many assets but we need to know what they are.”

A spokesperson for UEA has commented on the matter, describing the discovery of the crime: “The university is aware that a former member of staff has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud relating to her time working at UEA.

“Following an inconsistency in a claim form, the university’s internal investigation procedures uncovered the activity and the member of staff was immediately suspended. A full internal investigation was carried out alongside police investigations.”

O’Hara’s case has been adjourned until May 7.

11/04/2014

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