Former finance officer of Cambridge college jailed for stealing £286,000

Jacqueline Balaam was sentenced to two and a half years in jail for fraud by abuse of position and false accounting while working for the charity

Jacqueline Balaam
Jacqueline Balaam

A former finance officer at a college of the University of Cambridge has been jailed for two and a half years after she admitted stealing £286,000 from it.

Jacqueline Balaam, 41, of Fallowfield in Cambridge, was sentenced yesterday at Cambridge Crown Court after pleading guilty to three charges at a hearing held last month. She was given a two and a half year sentence for a first count of fraud by abuse of position, 12 months for a second charge of fraud by abuse of position and another 12 months for a charge of false accounting. The three sentences will run concurrently.

A statement from Cambridgeshire Police said the court heard that while working for Pembroke College Balaam had falsified invoices to obtain the funds between June 2012 and January 2014 in order to fund her gambling addiction.

Police said she also defrauded Girton Social Club of £3,198 between December 2010 and January 2014 while she was working for it as treasurer.

A statement from Pembroke College, Cambridge, a registered charity with an income of £17.5m in the year to 30 June 2014, said: "In January 2014, a member of college staff was suspended and subsequently dismissed following the discovery of serious financial irregularities." She was arrested November last year.

The statement said: "The college’s losses were significantly covered by insurance and we are vigorously pursuing the recovery of the remaining losses.

"After an external review, changes have been implemented to our accounting processes so as to prevent such an eventuality occurring again."

Detective Sergeant Dave York said in the police statement: "This is a case where the strength of an addiction to online gambling overcame the defendant's resistance to temptation.

"Sadly, thefts related to gambling addictions are a common problem and the sentence is a reflection of how firmly cases like this are dealt with."

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