Barnsley council clerk from Sheffield jailed for fraud

Janet Cooper, 52, of Wadsley Lane, Sheffied jailed for eight years for defrauding Brierley Town Council.
Janet Cooper, 52, of Wadsley Lane, Sheffied jailed for eight years for defrauding Brierley Town Council.
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A ‘pathological liar’ who abused her position as a council clerk to pocket hundreds of thousands of pounds has been jailed for eight years.

Serial fraudster Janet Cooper, aged 52, of Wadsley Lane, Hillsborough, Sheffield, enjoyed lavish hotel stays and cruises around the Mediterranean using cash from loans totalling almost £700,000 paid to Barnsley’s Brierley Town Council.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Cooper forged minutes of meetings and councillors’ signatures to borrow the money, which she then paid to herself.

She told the local authority the sums came from grants and that the council carried out elaborate building projects while hidden debts mounted.

She maintains she has no recollection of her crimes.

Residents in Brierley and Grimethorpe are now set to pay the price for more than two decades for Cooper’s offending.

Ian Goldsack, prosecuting, said: “Brierley had to obtain a loan from Barnsley Council resulting in an annual commitment of £35,000 per year for the next 20 years.

“The community bus service used by elderly and disabled people has been lost, four members of town council staff have lost their jobs, and there are charges on previously free services.

“There has been a huge backlash against the council in the community.”

Cooper began her web of deceit at the end of November 2006 – one month after she had begun employment with the council.

On her application she claimed to have been in continuous employment – when she had already served two spells in prison in 1999 and 2003 for defrauding employers.

Statements from Cooper’s former colleagues said she treated town staff to a trip to London to watch Barnsley FC take on West Ham.

Cooper also claimed to have won a Commonwealth Games medal for the discus.

Cooper was jailed for eight years after pleading guilty to four counts of fraud and theft on the second day of her trial.