We all have dreams and most of us work hard to achieve them. However, there are others, like this woman, who prefer a shortcut. A woman, who had stolen more than £200,000 from her work, has been jailed after she spent it on luxury cars, expensive holidays, and meeting Ant and Dec.

The 45-year-old employee of events management firm Big Purple Productions in Gateshead stole £204,216.74 from the company!


Amanda Toward had been working there for more than four years under her boss, Eddie McKay, who gave her extra hours and time off to deal with family problems. She not used the money to buy tickets to a meet-and-greet with Ant and Dec at a charity auction but also bought a Range Rover, an expensive house and a trip to Mexico.

After pleading guilty, she has been jailed for three years and four months.


Her defending counsel, Jamie Adams, told the Newcastle Crown Court that she was “completely and utterly ashamed of what she did”. According to Adams, she was a ‘functioning alcoholic’ who was born with congenital heart disease and had developed epilepsy. “She was drinking massively by then, six bottles of wine a day and she was admitted to hospital seven times last year with alcohol seizures,” he said, “This was not just wickedness, in fact it was probably anything but wickedness. She was a hapless drunk.”

However, Judge Edward Bindloss told her, “Your position is aggravated by the fact Mr McKay seems to have been a good and generous employer who looked after your interests.”


“His good natured approach to you and your role was something you utterly betrayed because all the time you were stealing from him and the company behind his back and that threatened the company and its employees,” he continued, “The money went on alcohol for you and other extravagances. I’ve read you drove a Range Rover, had expensive holidays such as in Mexico, you had an expensive residence.” He added, “You abused your position of trust and responsibility and this fraudulent activity was conducted over a sustained period of time.”

While she was on a trip to Mexico last year, the fraud was brought to light when Mr. McKay noticed a transaction on a bank statement for right amount, followed by duplicate payment two days later.


According to the prosecutor, Michael Bunch, “Presuming this to be a clerical error, a request was made to the bank to sort the matter out.” He told, “That same day a member of the fraud team at Lloyds Bank made contact with the complainant and said it was not a clerical error but a deliberate duplicate payment and that the second payment had been transferred to the defendant’s own personal bank account.” “A check was carried out by the bank which indicated this system of duplicate payments had been going on for a number of years,” he continued, “Because of her control of the accounting system, she recorded the payments as legitimate recipients, companies with whom the business was actually trading.” Bunch further added, “It threatened the existence of the company.”

It was reported in the court that her employer has sold his house to set up the business while his parents had taken loans to help him out.