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Agent who stole thousands from clients has sentence appeal dismissed

A letting agent who stole more than £400,000 from clients has had her sentence appeal dismissed by judges.

Amy Williams, who part-owned Williams & Young Ltd in the West Midlands, has had her jail term of four-and-a-half years upheld at London's Appeal Court.

The 28-year-old, a director at the Sutton Coldfield firm, stole money from the letting agency alongside her partner, Glenn Austin, who received a sentence of two-and-a-half years for his part in the crime.

The funds, which totalled £408,800, were used to perpetuate Austin's gambling addiction - although Williams claimed she had no knowledge that the funds would be spent on betting.

The scam came to light in early 2015 when tenants and landlords started to make complaints to Birmingham's Trading Standards and Action Fraud departments.

Williams took deposits and advance rents from prospective tenants and never passed the money on to landlords.

She also took money from different people for the same properties.

The agent, who was convicted in April, appealed her sentence which subsequently reached London's Appeal Court where it was thrown out by judges on September 16.

Williams complained that her sentence was unfairly more substantial than her partners, who she claimed was involved in 80% of the losses caused.

Mr Justice Edis, who presided over the case with Mr Justice Flaux, hinted that Austin was perhaps fortunate not to have received a longer sentence for his involvement in the scam.

But, on dismissing Williams’ appeal, he concluded that her sentence was 'entirely appropriate'.

“This fraud was not only heartless, leaving landlords and tenants out of pocket, but it was foolish – using company funds to finance a string of bets to raise more money," said Chris Neville, head of Trading Standards for Birmingham City Council, when the couple were convicted earlier this year.

“Tenants paid deposits and advance rents to Williams & Young Ltd in good faith, and in some cases landlords were unaware this was the case as the money had not been passed on."

Williams' membership of the National Association of Estate Agents and the Association of Residential Letting Agents was terminated in January 2015.

The National Federation of Property Professionals last week published the details of Disciplinary Tribunal Hearing against Williams, which she failed to attend.

The organisation proved Williams had breached a string of byelaws and membership criteria and imposed sanctions totalling £8,000 as well as costs of £393.50.

A statement from the Tribunal reads as follows:

"The public have been caused to suffer financial loss and aggravation irrespective of any claims they could make to recover outstanding rents and lost deposits."

"Miss Williams’ lack of co-operation means that there could be further unknown claims."

"The protection of client monies is key to the trust and confidence that is integral to membership of this Association."

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