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Friday, 17 March, 2000, 18:55 GMT
Bank manager's Disney obsession
disney toys
Court heard Moyies made a dreamworld of Disney
A bank manager has been jailed for two years after stealing 150,000 to fund her fixation with all things Disney.

Leslie Moyies, 43, of Loughton, Essex, would fly to the Disney theme parks in America and France to escape a stressful job and unhappy marriage, Southwark Crown Court heard.

She financed the trips and massive spending on souvenirs by siphoning money from Tesco accounts to which she had access through her work at HSBC - formerly Midland Bank.

"Disney made her happy," said a psychologist explaining the dozen trips Moyies had indulged in during four and a half years of dishonesty.

Systematic stealing

Passing sentence, Judge Andrew Goymer said the way she had systematically taken sums from 500 to 5,000 at a time amounted to a "very serious breach of trust".

He went on: "It was not just some committed on impulse on one occasion, in a moment of folly or madness, but persisted in, not for weeks or months, but for years.

Disney made her happy, it was a distraction technique

Carol Crouch, psychologist
Moyies had pleaded guilty to 16 counts of theft and asked for 70 similar offences, committed between March 1994 and October 1998, to be taken into consideration.

Roger Smart, prosecuting, said the total amount stolen was 157,830 but said Moyies had been preparing to take an additional 80,000 when she was caught by her employers.

'Sophisticated' deceit

He told the court that as customer services manager at Midland Bank's Cheshunt branch Moyies had become a trusted employee.

She was in charge of Tesco's corporate accounts, regularly handling millions of pounds a day as takings from the chain's stores around the country came in.

For years no one suspected that her outward efficiency hid "sophisticated" deceit as she used her terminal to regularly transfer sums to the accounts of unsuspecting relatives, he said.

Sometimes when the four assistants under her were out of the office, she would use their computers instead.

Suspicions were finally aroused in November 1998 when she moved just over 5,000 into her husband's and mother's accounts, the court heard.

When interviewed by her bosses, she initially blamed internal banking errors but later confessed her crimes.

Police were contacted and arrested her early one morning at her home.

Disney daydream

David Martin-Sperry, defending, said that Moyies' crimes stemmed from unhappiness at home and then at work.

He said enormous amounts of money spent on trips to Disney parks in Florida and Paris with her sisters and nieces were a way of "burying herself" in a fantasy world.

Psychologist Carol Crouch said: "It was how she coped with stress, Disney made her happy. It was a distraction technique."

"At work she would use her desk and Disney figures she had in order to construct herself a sort of daydream," she added.

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