Brewery employee jailed for money laundering

A former employee of St Austell Brewery has been jailed for five years for money laundering after she siphoned off more than £440,000 of company funds.

Lesley Freestone, of Biscovey, Cornwall, was a purchase ledger supervisor for the 160-year-old Cornish brewery when she stole £444,329.16 from its bank account over a nine-year period, between May 3, 2007 and May 15, 2016.

The 64-year-old was sentenced at Truro Crown Court in December 2019, but reporting restrictions were only lifted this month following the conclusion of the case involving a second defendant.

Jodie Tucker, also of Biscovey, was charged with having in her possession stolen funds belonging to St Austell Brewery between May 3, 2007 and May 15, 2014, with a combined value of £138,06.48. The 42-year-old had pleaded not guilty and at Truro Crown Court the Crown Prosecution Service formally entered a not guilty verdict on this charge.

A St Austell Brewery spokesperson said: “In October 2016, St Austell Brewery became aware of past financial irregularities – over a sustained period – and immediately reported the matter to Devon and Cornwall Police.

“One of our former employees, Lesley Freestone, appeared in court and pleaded guilty to embezzling funds from a company account.

“Although we were not able to recover the funds that were stolen, we are satisfied with the five-year sentence given and relieved that the lengthy court proceedings have now reached a conclusion.”

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