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Cleaner kept quiet about criminal past.

Byline: By Robert Brooks

A woman with a history of theft and deception lied her way into a cleaning job which gave her access to homes across the North-East, a court heard yesterday.

Tanya Unsworth failed to disclose her previous criminal convictions when she applied for a job with cleaning firm Molly Maid in April this year.

Unknown to her bosses, the 26-year-old, of Togston Crescent in North Broomhill, near Morpeth, had a record dating back to 1997, when she lived in Manchester, Alnwick Magistrates' Court was told.

And just months before getting the new job, she had stolen a pensioner's wallet, after he accidentally left it in the shop where she was working.

Mother-of-two Unsworth yesterday pleaded guilty to theft, obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, forgery and attempting to obtain by deception.

Prosecutor Jill Harrison said: "When she filled in the application for the job at Molly Maid, staff are required to complete a declaration that they have no unspent criminal convictions.

"On that section of the form, she ticked the box stating she didn't have any.

"In fact, she had two sets of convictions, for theft from a dwelling and obtaining by deception, dating back to 1997.

"Molly Maid would not have employed her had they known this, but she started work for the company in May on a wage of pounds 220 a week."

Mrs Harrison also told the court that before starting with the company, Unsworth had worked in a foodstore in Amble, Northumberland, where on January 14 she took advantage of a vulnerable 80-year-old customer, she added.

"After leaving with his goods, the elderly gentleman realised he didn't have his wallet," said Mrs Harrison. "He went straight back to the shop and asked the defendant if she had seen it.

"She said no, when in fact she had put it in her pocket."

Unsworth then stripped the wallet of pounds 60 in notes and dumped the remains, including the pensioner's cards, in refuse at her home.

A later search of her premises by police uncovered the wallet, and Unsworth made a full admission.

On the forgery and attempting to obtain by deception charges, Unsworth further pleaded guilty to falsifying a claim for council housing benefit.

In an attempt to claim she was paying higher rent, she bought an invoice book and forged her landlord's signature, in the hope it would result in higher benefits from the council.

The scam was spotted by a benefits officer, and nothing was paid out.

Defending, solicitor Michelle Lamond said Unsworth had fled to the North-East from a violent relationship, and had been struggling to provide for her family. All the offences, she said, were borne out of desperation.

"These are a very distasteful set of circumstances, and here we have a young woman who realises that she may be facing prison," she said. "That has absolutely terrified her."

Stealing from the pensioner was a "crass offence", she added, only committed to assist in her family's day-to-day needs.

Regarding Molly Maid, Miss Lamond said Unsworth had been "very hard-working" at the company, up until she was sacked when her criminal past came to light.

She added: "She has held her hands up and admitted her guilt as soon as she was arrested."

Unsworth was given a two-year supervision order and warned she would face jail if she re-offended.

She was also ordered to pay pounds 60 compensation and pounds 250 in legal costs.

Unsworth faces further charges, for which she has elected to face trial by a Crown Court jury, which will be held in due course.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 21, 2006
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