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JAILED: 'Serial fraudster' from Beckenham who stole more than £500,000 used fake doctor's notes to avoid trial

PUBLISHED: 13:17 25 May 2017 | UPDATED: 13:17 25 May 2017

Frances Bernadette Grant, formerly Oonagh Grant, changed her name via deed poll in 2013

Frances Bernadette Grant, formerly Oonagh Grant, changed her name via deed poll in 2013

Archant

She was sentenced on Wednesday

A convicted fraud who managed to steal £536,250 from law firms after changing her name to evade detection has been jailed.

Frances Grant from Altyre Close in Beckenham hopped from job to job stealing money, then leaving whenever her past caught up with her.

By the time she was due to appear in court, the 31-year-old began forging doctor’s notes to avoid hearings.

Grant was first convicted in 2011 of stealing from a solicitors she worked for by transferring funds from the company into bank accounts controlled by her.

She was handed a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years, and was banned from working for solicitors’ firms.

But two years later, the 57-year-old, born Oonagh Grant, changed her name by deed poll to Frances Bernadette Grant, and managed to get a new job as a property conveyancer, signing off property from one owner to another in Lewisham.

She managed to take £28,000 of the company’s funds before she was caught and fired.

Police were told of the offence, but by the time the report was made Grant had joined a new Bromley law firm.

She went on to take £223,950 from the company, resigning once the firm contacted her previous employer and found out about her fraudulent past.

She was arrested in December 2015, and released on bail on the condition she did not work for a law firm.

Grant broke bail and was hired by a Reading legal firm, stealing once again until she was fired when the company discovered the court order she was under.

In October 2016, she was arrested for breach of bail conditions, then charged and remanded in custody.

Police released on bail for a second time for her to have planned surgery, and was due to appear at Croydon Crown Court on November 23.

The fraud missed the date and a second court hearing, claiming she was “medically unfit”, but doctors notes she used were found to be fake.

She was arrested on January 15 on suspicion of fraud and the following month admitted three counts of fraud by false representation and three counts of dishonestly failing to disclose information for personal gain or to expose others to loss.

On Wednesday, Grant was jailed for five years at Croydon Crown Court.

Det Sgt Daren Walby of the Met’s Operation Falcon said: “Grant is a serial fraudster who believed that she was above the law; she even went so far as to send fake GP letters to the courts to delay her trial. I’m pleased that today she has received a substantial sentence, which reflects the severity of the crime and her contempt of the judicial system.”

“If anyone thinks they may have employed Grant they should contact detectives from the Met’s Operation Falcon unit by dialling 101.”

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