Garden centre director in £125,000 compensation order after theft

The former director of a Bristol garden centre has been ordered to pay a £125,000 confiscation order after stealing funds belonging to a workers' co-operative.

Deborah Buffery
Deborah Buffery

Avon and Somerset Police report that Deborah Buffery, aged 58, of Smythe Croft, Whitchurch, was the finance director of Riverside Garden Centre in Clift Road between 27 September 1995 and 26 June 2012, when she was suspended. 

As financial director Deborah Buffery dealt with the company finances. 

She was arrested on 8 January 2013 when a number of documents from the garden centre were seized, resulting in her being charged with theft on 3 November 2014. 

She admitted two offences of fraud and was jailed for 12 months on 17 July last year at Bristol Crown Court. 

At the same court on Friday 9 January, a confiscation hearing heard that Deborah Buffery had benefited from the crime to the value of £125,000 and had assets available to pay the order, made up from equity in property she owned. 

The money confiscated was ordered to be paid in compensation to the Riverside Garden Centre, which is to be paid within six months or Buffery will face two years imprisonment with the amount still due at the end of the prison term. 

Dr Kirstie Cogram, the manager of Avon and Somerset Financial Investigation Unit said "We are committed to seizing all assets that criminals have gained as a result of crime.  It is not acceptable that criminals benefit from illegal activities and we will relentlessly pursue them through the courts to ensure their money is taken.  By doing this we show criminals that they will not benefit from crime and deter others from entering a life of crime." 

#Meanwhile, a burglar has been jailed for 32 months in jail after raiding a garden centre only two months after receiving a suspended sentence.

Adam Clarke, 31, of Chapel Lane, Easton, admitted burgling Garthowens Garden Centre in Alton Lane, Four Marks, near Alresford, Hampshire, on November 11.

#And Matthew Hill, 27, of John Street, Stockingford, admitted stealing Yankee candles worth £5,000 after entering Wyevale Garden Centre in Coventry as a trespasser. He was jailed for 36 weeks and had to pay £80 compensation and a £180 criminal courts charge.

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