Helen Armstrong was a director and company secretary of Wren Properties Limited and worked for the company for ten years. She was in charge of all the day-to-day operations of the business.
In March 2002, whilst Armstrong was on holiday, two company cheques signed by her were returned by the bank. These were investigated and the payments found to be inconsistent with the accounting entries.
The matter was passed to external accountants to investigate and the clear conclusion was that the cheques were deliberate frauds. Forensic investigation of the accounts for the previous four years showed that Armstrong had stolen many times from the company.
Armstrong initially denied the accusations and legal advice was taken which concluded that Wren should attempt to recover the money before the Police were called. There is no time limit on criminal prosecutions so the advice was to report her crimes to the Police at a later date. As the investigations and legal action progressed Helen Armstrong repaid the company a total of £452,516.82.
The matter was reported to the Police and they were passed the evidence of the 180 proven frauds. This included the report from the investigating accountants who had independently verified that the sums had indeed been stolen from the company.
Nevertheless the Crown Prosecution Service told the Police that they would not recommend a Police investigation on the basis that it was not in the public interest to do so. This was despite the fact that by now Armstrong had set up her own business and was trading with the general public.
Wren Properties Limited challenged this decision and John Holt, the Chief Crown Prosecutor of the Greater Manchester CPS admitted in writing, twice, that "[I] accept that there was sufficient evidence to give a realistic prospect of convicting Mrs Armstrong of stealing money from Wren Properties Ltd."