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Nursery worker Julie Goldstraw, who was jailed for stealing thousands of pounds from her employer, has been released on appeal

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: April 10, 2014

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Julie Ann Goldstraw, of Werrington, was sent to prison for 18 weeks by North Staffordshire magistrates on March 27 after admitting taking £6,542.40 from Early Stages Limited.

But she has now been released after spending just four days behind bars after she appealed against the sentence and was handed a 12-week jail term, suspended for 18 months, at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.

Prosecutor Paul Farrow said Justine Cope and her husband are directors of Early Stages Limited, which runs three nurseries including Teddy's Garden Nursery in Cheddleton, where Goldstraw was an assistant manager.

On September 16 Mrs Cope had her handbag stolen – which was not connected to Goldstraw.

Mr Cope checked the Teddy's Garden Nursery account online and found several cheques had been written over several months.

The couple discovered payments had been made to Severn Trent Water, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and the defendant herself.

Further investigations revealed Goldstraw also wrote cheques from the Early Stages Limited account. Those included utility bills to BT and British Gas.

And the company credit card had been used to pay a bailiffs bill.

In total, Goldstraw took £6,542.40 from the company.

The defendant, who has no previous convictions, was arrested on October 10.

She said she had not used the account, written any cheques or paid any utility bills. She said the handwriting on the cheques looked like her's but was not.

But she later admitted the offences and pleaded guilty to three offences of fraud last month.

Mr Farrow said Goldstraw's actions have had a considerable impact on the victims' business.

Richard Oldroyd, representing Goldstraw, argued that the sentence was too high.

He said the 34-year-old, of Whitmore Avenue, Werrington, is from a decent family.

Mr Oldroyd said: "Her decline seems to be the end of her relationship in March 2012."

He added that Goldstraw spent four days in prison before being released on bail.

Judge David Fletcher, sitting with two magistrates, said the offences crossed the custody threshold but the sentence could be suspended.

As well as supervision, Goldstraw must complete the female offenders' workbook; six victim awareness group sessions and 16 sessions at Chepstow House in Hanley, which aims to help women get their lives back on track.

She must also pay £2,500 compensation.

Judge Fletcher said: "These are mean-spirited offences. Instead of admitting your responsibility straight away, as a result of your actions, other people had a shadow cast over them.

"What you did was remove a considerable amount of money from a comparatively small business enterprise.

"You should be, and am sure are, thoroughly ashamed."

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