She was a trusted member of senior management staff at one of the most well-known charitable causes in the county.
Now Andrea Garrick she will spend Christmas behind bars after admitting stealing tens of thousands from the charity that put so much trust into her.
And the end of her 15-year-long career at St Michael’s Hospice was summed up in one sentence by the Judge who sent her to jail for two years.
Judge Paul Tain said: “When you take of the responsibility of being an executor you are in a trust relationship, both in regards to the instructions of the deceased person, but also the beneficiaries of the estate.”
Lewes Crown Court heard how Garrick had known Nola Harmer for most of her life and became close to her when Mrs Harmer moved to the south-coast after the death of her husband.
In 2005, Mrs Harmer made Garrick the sole executor and trustee of her estate. Mrs Harmer, from Pevensey, bequeathed the bulk of her estate to St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards, before she died aged 70 in January 2011. She has also set aside £5,000 for Garrick. The majority of Mrs Harmer’s estate, worth £250,000 when her house was sold, was to be given to the hospice.
In fact, the hospice only received £115,000 and became suspicious when they saw the accounts.
Instead, Garrick, who worked at the hospice from 1998 to 2013, used some of the funds to refurbish her home and towards mortgage repayments and holidays.
Ryan Richter, prosecuting, said there were receipts in the accounts for refurbishments to Mrs Harmer’s property in order to sell the house. In fact they were receipts for refurbishments in Garrick’s home.
“A substantial amount of money had been spent in renovating Mrs Garrick’s own property, together with bill payments and holidays,” he said.
Defending, Adam James, said, “The bulk of the money went toward the refurbishment of the property. The rest was in relation to mortgage arrears.”
Mr James referred to Garrick’s previous good character and work in the community, but said her career had come to ‘a dreadful end’.
Garrick admitted diverting the money at Brighton Magistrates Court on October 6. She pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering.
Judge Tain said: “You must have known what you were doing was wrong. You must have had a sense you would get away with it.”
A proceeds of crime hearing will take place in the new year to ascertain the exact amount that Garrick will have to repay.