A disgraced office manager has been jailed after lying in court that she had a baby to avoid prison after committing workplace fraud.

Heather McCarthy, 33, invented the birth to make a tearful plea for mercy last November after she took £7,700 from a recruitment company in order to feed her cocaine habit.

The judge initially gave her a suspended sentence because he did not want to separate the mum from her child, and she sobbed ‘thank you so much’ as she was freed from the dock.

But after her court appearance was made public, suspicions were raised as to whether her child actually existed. She was questioned at her home in Liverpool and then ordered back to court.

After initially promising to produce a birth certificate, McCarthy eventually broke down and admitted there was no baby – saying she came up with the story in a ‘fit of panic’.



Her eight-month suspended prison sentence was activated yesterday at Manchester Crown Court.

Judge Paul Lawton condemned her ‘brazen and outrageous’ lies as the defendant cried in the dock.

‘Before I sentenced you in November I was told you were a single mother, and you said you had not disclosed this to anyone because you had been suffering from post-natal depression,’ he said.

‘I told you I would take you at your word as I could not imagine anyone in your position could be quite so brazenly dishonest.

‘You knew any judge dealing with a single mother would only separate mother and child as a last resort. I made it clear that that information persuaded me to pass a suspended sentence.

‘This was a brazenly dishonest, calculated ploy to persuade me to suspend your sentence. It was an outrageous untruth, which suggests you lie whatever the circumstances or consequences.

‘As recently as last week you said you were trying to retrieve the child’s birth certificate from storage. How you thought you would not be found out is beyond me.’

Her original offence took place between June 2018 and June 2019 after McCarthy began working at Paragon Meed, based in Bury, as a recruitment consultant.

Prosecutor Craig MacGregor said: ‘She helped recruit staff for large companies to work in their warehouses.

‘She would interview potential staff, make sure their paperwork was up to date and in order and ensure their timesheets were correctly inputted.

‘But in July 2019 Miss McCarthy was called before her bosses to explain why her work standards had dropped off.



‘She never went to the meeting, instead resigning from the company citing problems with drugs and with debt.

‘An audit was then carried out after she left and it was found that two former employees were having timesheets submitted and monies were being paid into Miss McCarthy’s accounts.’

The court heard 20 fraudulent transactions were carried out, netting McCarthy £7,710.29. She was interviewed by police in February last year and confessed.

Mr MacGregor added: ‘She said it was a former partner who pushed her into doing this. There was a threat that if she did not do it he would tell her employees about her past.

‘She said she gave some of the money to her now ex-partner, spending the rest on drugs and drink.

‘She said she resigned as she wanted to keep her unblemished CV and, at the time of interview, was working again in a recruitment consultancy.

‘In fact, it appears she never told the company about her previous conviction and has not told her new employers about her convictions either. She is a persistent fraudster.’

McCarthy had been previously been convicted of stealing from an employer in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire in 2011 for which she was given a suspended sentence.

She was also jailed for 12 weeks in 2017 after stealing £4,800 from Belvior Sales and Lettings agency in West Derby, where she was working as an estate agent.

McCarthy missed numerous court hearings citing anxiety and Covid-19, and only revealed the ‘existence’ of the child last November to her lawyers on the day of her sentencing.


In mitigation, her lawyer Thomas McKail said: ‘She is in a new relationship with her current partner who is a business owner who himself has a young family.

‘She tells me rather emotionally today that, having found herself in a family unit, she panicked and advanced information that was not true. She apologises to the you for that. She is genuinely remorseful and feels genuine regret.

‘She is completely ashamed and has had to tell her partner about the case. She has learnt her lesson and tells me this will never happen again.

‘She has a history of drug misuse which stems from an previous abusive relationship. She has combatted those demons in her life and tried to move forward.

‘She is worried that during her time in custody she will lose all of that, but recognises she has only herself to blame and that the court will be unable to consider a suspended sentence.’

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