She had lost track of almost £1,000 and, worried it would be deducted from her pay, tried to cover up the shortfall, leading to a three-month suspended prison sentence.
A former Post Office worker wrongly convicted of fraud during the Horizon scandal has been cleared by the Court of Appeal.
Jacqueline Falcon, 42, was accused of reversing transactions on the faulty accounting software between December 2014 and February 2015 while working at Hadston Post Office in Northumberland.
The former Post Office clerk had been trying to cover up a shortfall of almost £1,000 in the branch’s accounts which she had not taken and could not explain and was worried the missing amount would be deducted from her pay, the court heard.
She said: “I tried and I tried and I couldn’t find the £1,000 anywhere. I thought of every scenario possible. It drove me mad, I went nuts thinking about it.”
Ms Falcon knew the Horizon system, which could be accessed remotely, was faulty, as they “had engineers out all the time”, but was unaware it could throw out accounting errors.
Pregnant with her fifth child when she admitted fraud on her barrister’s advice.
She was handed a three-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay £933.69 in compensation after pleading guilty to fraud at Newcastle Crown Court in 2015.
The scandal, thought to be the biggest miscarriage of justice in British history, saw hundreds of subpostmasters and subpostmistresses wrongly held responsible for accounting errors in the faulty software.
Glitches in the system meant money looked as if it was missing from many branch accounts when in fact it was not.
Many more are yet to be cleared and the government has come under fire for the compensation awarded to victims.
Between 1999 and 2015, more than 700 were prosecuted, causing many to lose their jobs, livelihoods and reputations.
More than 100 subpostmasters have had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal.
But the affair was largely ignored by the wider public until it was exposed by the ITV drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office.
Ex Post Office boss to give evidence
Who are key figures in scandal?
Concerns over another Post Office IT system
Post Office chairman ousted amid row
Fujitsu, the company behind Horizon, was still winning government-linked business, even after its role in the scandal became clear.
Last weekend, MPs said the company is set to have received more than £3.4bn through contracts from Treasury-linked organisations since 2019.
The international tech firm, which is under intense scrutiny, was awarded around £1.4bn worth of deals since a 2019 High Court ruling concluding there had been numerous bugs and errors in its Horizon IT system.
More than £2bn worth of contracts were agreed before 2019 and remained active in the following period, the Commons Treasury Committee said.
Robert Johnson is a UK-based business writer specializing in finance and entrepreneurship. With an eye for market trends and a keen interest in the corporate world, he offers readers valuable insights into business developments.