Page last updated at 21:00 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 22:00 UK

Advice bureau theft couple guilty

Dale and Sally Foster arriving in court
Dale and Sally Foster were taken to prison to return to court on Friday

A couple have been found guilty of stealing thousands from a Citizens' Advice Bureau which they ran.

Dale and Sally Foster, from Swansea, were accused of stealing from the branch in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire.

The pair were convicted of eight charges of theft and the jury is to continue deliberations on further charges of false accounting and theft.

A judge at Swansea Crown Court has remanded the couple into custody until the verdicts have been reached.

Mrs Foster, 51, and her husband, 65, were cleared of two charges of theft and one other joint charge of theft remains undecided.

Mr Foster was also cleared of five charges of false accounting.

The couple were accused of stealing the money to fund a champagne lifestyle of luxury breaks and shopping trips to Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

We have certainly learnt lessons from what happened in Ammanford
A CAB spokesperson

A no-expense-spared ski holiday to the Canadian resort of Whistler, costing £17,000, came during a three-month spending spree at the end of 2003 when the couple went through £56,000, without including the skiing holiday.

The court heard the couple were among the few regular salaried staff working at the bureau, where Mrs Foster was the manager.

Mr Foster began working there in 1997 and was contracted to do 30 hours-a-week for £9,000 a year.

Their success had been built on the small Ammanford office clinching a contract to run a Wales-wide CAB advice call centre from 2002 onwards.

Dale and Sally Foster arriving in court
The couple set up bogus company and bank accounts to cover their tracks

The prosecution said it meant the bureau, in a former terraced house, was "awash with cash".

Over four years from 2002 the contract brought in £1.2m without counting substantial Welsh Assembly Government, county and community council grants.

The jury heard the couple set up a series of secret accounts and used them to transfer hundreds of thousands of pounds for their own personal use, setting up a bogus company and bank accounts to cover their tracks.

Their scam only came to light when both quit work overnight at Easter 2006, posting the office keys through the letterbox of a local solicitor who was a volunteer and acting bureau chairman.

By the time the police were called in to investigate, the CAB office's computer accounts and all its paper documentation were missing.

Banned

The Fosters assured the jury during the trial that the office accounts were fully intact when they had left.

The CAB has insisted that lessons have been learned from the couple's thefts.

It said stricter financial measures have been put in place in offices across the UK and supervision has been strengthened.

A national spokesperson said: "We have certainly learnt lessons from what happened in Ammanford.

"Since the Fosters left more than three years ago we have been looking at our system and how things can be changed and improved.

"In Ammanford itself there is a complete new management structure since the Fosters left."



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SEE ALSO
CAB theft accused 'was framed'
13 May 09 |  South West Wales
CAB man cleared of false accounts
12 May 09 |  South West Wales
'Spite' led to fraud accusations
11 May 09 |  South West Wales
CAB manager handed blank cheques
23 Apr 09 |  South West Wales
CAB pair's claim 'flabbergasting'
16 Apr 09 |  Wales
CAB couple 'stole up to 650,000'
15 Apr 09 |  Wales


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