A former Oxford lecturer stole all the money of a design firm which had temporarily employed her. She

plundered the firm’s accounts to spend thousands of pounds at stores including internet couture site “Net a Porter” and Selfridges.

She also hired holiday homes in Portugal, spent £10,000 flying a friend to London from Italy and made out cheques for thousands of pounds.

When she realised the police were on her tail, [Maria] Di Natale tried to have two incriminating computers stolen from the company offices.

She

covered her tracks by ensuring the company financial system was “almost wholly destroyed.”

Then, when the previous financial controller was asked to return to the company, Di Natale suggested selling the company to avert bankruptcy – to a firm she owned.

An investigation by an accountancy firm found she had spent £13,286 on Portuguese holidays, £17,000 on renting a flat for her and her husband and £2,840 on a chaise longue.

She had also hired a jet to fly in an associate to London for a charity football match.

She should not go to jail, her lawyer argued, because she is

suffering from bipolar disorder.

She will go to jail. For five years.

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