Former parish council clerk bailed after admitting £162k fraud

A former parish council clerk has been sent to the Crown Court for sentencing after she pleaded guilty at Oxford Magistrates’ Court to stealing more than £161,000 from two parishes.

The Oxford Mail has reported Joanne Wills also transferred more than £20,600 from Chinnor to Towersey parish council to cover up a huge shortfall in the latter’s account.

Oxford Magistrates heard Ms Wills stole £161,864 between 2009 and 2021 when she was parish clerk at Towersey. She served additionally as Chinnor’s clerk from December 2019 until January 2021.

She created a number of fraudulent invoices containing her own bank details.

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The councils discovered various blank template invoices saved on her computer containing the names of reputable companies, and discrepancies between the minutes Ms Wills sent to councillors and those she posted to the parish council’s website.

Ms Wills pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation.

Magistrates bailed her to attend Oxford Crown Court for sentence on 30 June and said her offences were “clearly way beyond our sentencing powers”.

Mark Smulian

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