A secretary who stole nearly £1.2m from her property tycoon bosses and used it to splash out on a fleet of luxury cars said ‘thank you so much’ as a judge spared her jail.
Samina Khan, 48, bought Aston Martins, BMWs, Porsches, and Audis while fiddling the books and forging signatures at Landmark and Duram Properties over a period of 13 years.
She left brothers David and Richard Murad ‘utterly betrayed’ after stealing £1,185,955 from their family-run companies and destroying cheque books that would trace the theft back to her.
Khan claimed she had been trying to provide for her six-year-old son when she was first confronted about the theft.
But she treated herself to personalised number plates and prestige vehicles with cash plundered from the private accounts of David’s grandmother and daughter.
The mother-of-one was let off with a suspended sentence to care for her child and her husband.
Southwark Crown Court heard Khan’s spouse suffered mental health problems which would complicate her son’s upbringing should she be sent to jail.
Prosecutor Dominic Lewis said: ‘From October 1997 for 20 years [Ms Khan] was employed full time as the bookkeeper and secretary of Landmark Properties and Darum Properties owned by the Murad family.
‘She was the only person providing bookkeeping to the companies and she had full access to the accounts and check books.
‘She handled all the day to day banking she acted as a PA to Richard and David Murad.
‘But in May 2017 a family member noticed a suspicious transaction from her own personal bank account to S R KHAN.
‘The signature was that of her father who had temporary authority refurbishing daughters property.
‘Khan admitted stealing the money from that account and destroying the cheque book she had used to make further payments.
‘She admitted later that day to stealing around £50,000.
‘She said her plan had been to flee be country with her son without her husband’s knowledge.
‘The company investigated and discovered she had stolen from all three companies owned by the Murad family including account from the account of their grandmother.
‘When she was confronted with the wider spread of the allegations she admitted to the more extensive stealing.
‘She now said she had stolen in order for her child to have a privileged upbringing.
‘The offending predates her child’s birth.
‘The total losses are of about 1.2m, including £87,000 from their grandmother Tafaya and £159,000 from the relative’s account.
‘Ms Khan agreed to provide family with a list of her bank accounts and assets she purchased with the stolen money.
‘She was able to identify personal assets totalling around 1.6m and paid back £330,000 almost immediately.
‘In early June 2017 however she instructed solicitors and the process of recouping money stalled.
‘She purchased with the money a series of high value cars including various Porsches, various makes of Audi, various Mercedes, a BMW M6 and an Aston Martin at one point.
‘She also purchased four different personal number plates with the initials RSK.
‘A substantial portion of the monies will be available at the end of the confiscation proceedings
Sarah Tracey Wood, defending Khan, argued that her son would likely be taken into care should she be handed a jail term.
She said the thefts came about because Khan’s husband was prone to piling up debt which she sought to repay.
Ms Wood said: ‘There are a number of significant mitigations features.
‘She went through the spreadsheets herself and identified them and accepted the sum she had stolen. Effectively she self reported.
‘That was in 2017 so these events have been hanging over her, she has been awaiting her fate for that duration of time.
‘She is the primary carer both for her six-year-old son and her husband who suffers mental health difficulties. She has stayed by him throughout his difficulties.
‘One of the risk factors of relapse is that he accumulates debt.
‘That was why the offending first started in 2004.
‘She stole from the company thinking she would be able to repay them and it snowballed from there.
‘She lied to her husband about her background. She did that given his volatility. She accepts now that she realises the mistake she made was from the outset in not being honest with him, herself or the company.
‘The child is the main concern. At some point he would be taken into local authority care. That thought of her son being taken into local authority care is a devastating one for the defendant.
‘It is one she sought to avoid through her criminality but ironically it will lead to that outcome.
‘An immediate custodial sentence will lead to her losing him.
‘I ask the court to take an unusual approach to this case and ask the court to impose a suspended sentence. In this exceptional case that is an approach which it is my submission can be justified.’
The court heard Khan would be able to pay back the losses by selling upmarket property she owns.
In a statement read to the court, the Murad family slammed Khan for her ‘deception.’
The family said: ‘She was well liked by everyone in the office. She seemed hard-working, trusted and dependable.
‘The theft has caused the family to feel incredibly deceived. We want her to know the family feel utterly betrayed.
‘We regret giving her a job and we can’t overstate the feeling of betrayal the deception has caused.’
The judge, Ms Recorder Quincy Whitaker told Khan: ‘You have betrayed the trust of the Murad family in a very significant way which impacts on the way they are able to trust people now.
‘Your actions have thrown away your good character and you stand to lose many things you have worked for in your life.
‘This was a particularly serious breach of trust or happened over significant period of time. I have thought very hard about the appropriate sentence and if it were not for your family circumstances you would certainly be going to prison for a considerable period of time.
‘I note however you have shown remorse and that is sincere and I accept that.
‘It seems perhaps that the family considered you their friend which is an even greater betrayal.
‘In any other circumstances you would have gone straight to prison and I hear that would lead to your son going into care.
‘Having taken into account the circumstances that led to your offending, your husband’s mental health issues.
‘The best outcome for your son that won’t devastate and possibly destroy his life is for you to remain caring for him.
‘In no way does this reduce the seriousness of the offence and the very, very great betrayal of trust, but it is specifically to allow your son to have a life with a parent and it seems it would be impossible for him to be living alone with your husband.’
Khan sobbed before breaking into a grin and telling the judge: ‘Thank you so much.’
Khan, of Wykeham Green, Dagenham, Essex, admitted three counts of theft by employment and two counts of theft.
A further two counts of theft were left to lie on file.
She was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to complete 250 hours community service.