Disgraced finance boss stole thousands of pounds from struggling cancer charity

A heartless finance boss stole thousands of pounds from the cancer charity where she worked despite the charity facing possible closure due to a lack of funds.

Paula Tribbeck, who worked as a financial coordinator at Wessex Cancer Trust, transferred the vital cash into her own bank accounts between January 2013 to December 2019.

The disgraced worker was eventually caught after her “shocked and saddened” bosses noticed the missing money.

The charity, which helps people living with cancer and their families, faced possible closure and scrambled to raise £600,000 to save the organisation at the start of December 2019.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard Tribbeck, 48, of Southampton, stole money by abusing her position within the struggling charity.

She dishonestly transferred money from the accounts of Wessex Cancer Trust, based in Eastleigh, near Southampton, and its retail subsidiary WCT Wessex Limited to herself over six years.

The court heard she was eventually caught in 2019, with the charity taking immediate action and reporting the incident to the police.

In a joint statement, Diane Cutler, chair of trustees, and Rachel Billsberry-Grass, chief executive, of Wessex Cancer Trust, said: “We are shocked and saddened that a trusted member of staff would steal from our charity.

“This is a historic incident and when it was discovered in 2019, we took immediate action to inform the police and the Charity Commission, and to review all internal procedures.

“Since then, we have been supporting the police to gather evidence to bring this criminal case to court.

“The individual has now pleaded guilty in the magistrates’ court, and we look forward to the sentencing hearing in October.”

Tribbeck admitted fraud by abuse of office in Southampton Magistrates’ Court and is due to be sentenced at Southampton Crown Court later this month.

Wessex Cancer Trust gives free support to people affected by the disease at five support centres across Hampshire, on the Isle of Wight and in Bournemouth, Dorset. It offers a drop-in service, professional counselling, complementary therapies, activities, support groups and courses.

Some £290,000 was raised to save it from going under in 2020.