A LOANS officer for the collapsed North Yorkshire Credit Union had previously defrauded a string of York businesses, The Press can reveal.

Tricia Louisa Helena Matthews, 58, wiped away tears in the dock of York Crown Court as she admitted two frauds carried out while working for the not-for-profit organisation that specialised in helping people who have difficulty getting credit.

She had previously stolen more than £6,400 by fiddling the books of the Queen’s Hotel in Skeldergate during a six-month period in 2004 while providing maternity cover for a hotel manager, and had defrauded another York employer in 1991, a Ryedale business in 1992 – when she was jailed for four months – and a third York company in 1995.

Sentencing her for the Queen’s Hotel offences, Judge Jim Spencer QC said: “No employer is safe when they look to you for assistance because it seems to me, having looked at your record and by your behaviour last year, given the opportunity you will steal from your employer when you can.”

The police investigation that uncovered her crimes at the credit union was separate to the Financial Services Authority investigation into the organisation’s collapse.

Joint liquidator Kevin Murphy, of Chantry Vellocott DRK, said shortly after his appointment the credit union had bad debt provisions of more than £400,000 to members because of “inadequate credit referencing and credit control”.

It also had inadequate cost control partly due to the need to service a large area. He said all 5,000 investors in the scheme would get their money back.

At her latest appearance before York Crown Court, Matthews, now of Severus Street, Acomb, admitted two charges of fraud by setting up credit union accounts in two different names and issuing cheques worth together £2,130 in two more names.

She was released on bail until December 13 while probation officers prepare a report on her.

The credit union collapsed in November 2012 after operating for six years.

A week after the collapse, it emerged that a former employee of the credit union had been arrested over a £3,010 cheque fraud. Matthews faced four charges of fraud totalling about £3,000, but the prosecution accepted not guilty pleas on two of the charges after she entered her guilty pleas.