Greater Manchester Police worker conned her next-door neighbour into loaning her £18k

Barbara O’Shea, 58, also fraudulently took out one loan, and tried to take out a second, in the name of another neighbour and used the police computer system to search his name, a court heard.

A member of Greater Manchester Police staff who conned her neighbour into lending her thousands of pounds has been told she faces jail if she doesn’t keep up repayments to him.

Mum Barbara O’Shea, 58, who works for the force as admin officer, borrowed just over £18,000 from her next-door neighbour under false pretences.

O’Shea, who a court was told has sought help with gambling, said the money was to buy a share in a house when it was in fact to re-pay debts and she then didn’t pay him back when asked.

She also took out one loan, and tried to take out a second, in the name of another neighbour and used the police computer system to search his name, a court heard.

A judge today deferred sentencing O’Shea to allow her to prove her remorse by continuing to make re-payments to her first victim who it was said had been caused “incredible damage” by the deception and financial loss.

The court was told that in August 2018 O’Shea told him she was trying to purchase a 20 percent stake in a house.

As a result, he agreed to lend her the money which she said she would re-pay him using a lump sum from her pension.

Her neighbour made two payments by cheque, the first being for £13,250.

O’Shea then spent all the money within two days of it landing in her account.

She then told the neighbour she needed more money to purchase another five percent and asked to borrow more money. In total she ‘borrowed’ £18,300.

However the Bellway housing scheme O’Shea purported to have enquired about was found to have never existed and her pension wasn’t the type to pay a lump, Lisa Boocock, prosecuting said.

The victim ‘repeatedly’ asked about repayment as he was trying to purchase his father’s home after his death the court was told.

However in September 2019 when he asked her about repayments she said she had been suspended from work and he “realised he wouldn’t get his money back” Miss Boocock said. As a result, he had to release funds from his own pension.

Eventually, he contacted a solicitor in a bid to re-coup the money and a re-payment plan was drawn up, although several payments had already been missed Miss Boocock said.

The deception came to light after officers searched her home as part of an investigation two fraudulent loan applications she made in the name of another neighbour, which had been triggered by her activity on her work computer.

She had used the name of the man, described in court as a “friend”, to apply for a loan for £5,000 from finance firm Zopa in June 2019.

Beforehand she searched his name on the police computer system Opus and despite spelling his name incorrectly was able to check his record.

This was to ‘check for any previous convictions or past history which might affect his credit’ Miss Boocock said.

She then used his bank details, which she had access to, and a false payslip in the name of Southway Homes, where he had never worked, to apply for the loan.

She created a false e-mail address in the man’s name before submitting the application from her work account.

When the money was paid into the man’s account she transferred it into hers, and “immediately dissipated” almost all the funds the court was told.

Investigators found she had spent it on bills, payments to the father of her daughter, cash withdrawals, and payments to gambling companies.

In August 2019 she submitted an application to Post Office Money, in the same man’s name and again using a fake payslip, for another loan of 9,000.

However, as a result of the intervention of police officers the account had been frozen and the money was returned.

She was then arrested in September 2019 with police becoming aware of the first fraud involving the first neighbour through documents recovered in her house. They were initially unable to identify him but officers managed to locate and speak to him in March 2020.

The second neighbour whose name she had used to apply for the two loans was arrested at the same time as her, the court was told.

He told officers in interview he had allowed her to take out loans in his name as she had agreed to pay him back.

O’Shea’s barrister said she had previously handled loan applications for him so had his bank details and that although he didn’t know the purpose of the loans he “knew what she was doing.”

The pair were still on “good terms” the court heard.

O’Shea of Stanway Street, Stretford, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to six counts of fraud by false representation and one charge of obtaining or disclosing personal details.

Nicholas Clarke, defending, said until 2017 O’Shea, who had no previous convictions, had an “unblemished” work record at both the RAC and then GMP.

However in that year she separated from her partner, with whom she has a daughter, which had an “obvious emotional and financial impact” on her, he said.

She was also diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and Mr Clarke said she had “lost her way” and “wasn’t seeing things as rationally” as she had previously.

He said she had “looked into” buying a 20 percent stake in a property but “not to a degree that she could borrow money against that.”

However, he said the loan from her neighbour was “not fraudulent at outset in order to gamble or to obtain something illegal.”

“She had an idea, and asked someone to lend her money as part of that” he said.

“When she knew the idea was not going to be realised, at that point she should have given the money back.”

He said she as she spent more time at home due to her illness she “became more involved with gambling companies” and as a result “borrowed again and again.”

She believed she could solve her financial problems through gambling which he said she now admitted was a “ridiculous position to be in.”

The loans were merely taken out to pay debts he said, in effect, “robbing Peter to pay Paul.’

He said she had sought help from the Gamble Aware service, and had not gambled since her arrest.

She is currently suspending from work on full pay pending a disciplinary hearing the court was told.

However, Mr Clarke said “there are police staff with convictions” and that she hopes to keep her job.

And at a hearing at Minshull Street Crown Court on Thursday, judge Tina Landale delayed sentencing to allow O’Shea time for more repayments to be made to her victim.

She said: “This is a very serious matter

“You caused incredible damage to (your victim) as you are aware.

“Something that concerns, me, you say you are very sorry and are ashamed, but the fact there has been an agreement with (your victim) which has seemingly lapsed makes me consider that you may not be remorseful and that you don’t intend to pay him back.”

She said she would be deferring sentencing until November 19, when a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing is also scheduled to take place.

“I expect you to continue paying (your victim) as agreed, 500 pounds per month, if you pay him in accordance with that agreement I can see clear evidence not to immediately send you to prison.

“But this is something which is conditional on the deferral of sentence.”

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