Edwin May Coleraine VolkswagenEdwin May Coleraine Volkswagen


Edwin May worker jailed after showing ‘insatiable level of greed’ in near-£500,000 fraud

  • Fraudulent car dealership worker jailed for three years
  • Norma Smyth stole close to £500,000 over 11-and-half-year period working for Edwin May Ltd
  • 48-year-old showed ‘insatiable level of greed’ and left fellow employees feeling a ‘sense of betrayal’

Time 8:44 am, July 5, 2023

A fraudster has been jailed for three years after admitting to stealing close to £500,000 from car dealer Edwin May.

Norma Smyth worked at the Volkswagen dealership in Limavady, Northern Ireland, for well over a decade but was living a secret double life.

The 48-year-old spent 11 and half years abusing her position of power within the company to steal an astronomical amount of money.

She previously admitted to charges of theft and fraud at Antrim Crown Court and this week returned to the dock to be sentenced.

The court was told that the mother-of-three, of Duncrun Road in Limavady, showed an ‘insatiable level of greed’ during her time at the dealership.

She stole a whopping £437,824 from Edwin May Ltd as well as illegally accessing company accounts to secure herself a further £18,578.86, which she used to pay personal invoices and finance repayments on her car.

Judge Alistair Devlin was told that on average, Smyth was stealing more than £3,000 from her employer every month.

Despite her significant ill-gotten gains, she was also able to successfully lobby for a pay rise shortly before her theft came to light.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that her web of lies began to untangle when a financial adviser noticed irregularities in Edwin May’s accounts.

It was later found that money paid by Volkswagen to the dealership to cover metallic paint costs had actually gone to accounts linked to the defendant.

She also transferred credits and bonuses to accounts where customers’ cash payments were lodged before withdrawing the cash herself.

Another scheme saw her buy vehicles from Edwin May in the name of either herself or her husband, which were actually paid for by transferring money from the company’s road tax refund account.

She eventually admitted to her campaign of theft – which took place between February 1, 2008 and November 6, 2019 – during police interviews held in December 2019 and May 2021.

When quizzed in court, Smyth’s defence team claimed she had stolen the money to ‘provide a better lifestyle’ for her family.

However, Judge Devlin said he had ‘difficulty accepting’ the explanation and said the defendant had lived a double life for several years.

He described her as ‘a hard-working and no doubt devoted wife, mother, homemaker and churchgoer on the one hand, but who was unfortunately at the same time, unknown to anyone, a skilled, persistent and accomplished fraudster and thief’.

In handing down her sentence, the judge described how showroom staff had been left feeling a ‘sense of betrayal’ when they discovered Smyth’s deception.

He accused her of ‘skilfully abusing’ the trust they placed in her and said she had ‘manipulated’ her manager into getting her a pay rise.

She was jailed for three years, taking into account her early guilty pleas, half of which will be served under supervised licence conditions.

Confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act are also set to get under way in September in a bid to recoup some of the stolen funds.

Edwin May Ltd is part of the Roadside Motors group, which has new and used car dealerships across Northern Ireland.

Image credit: Edwin May Volkswagen Coleraine/Google Maps

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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