Eastbourne gym owners set record straight after lawyer jailed for swindling thousands

Beach Bourne Crossfit Eastbourne SUS-150207-113947001

Beach Bourne Crossfit Eastbourne SUS-150207-113947001

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The owners of an Eastbourne community gym have spoken out after one of their members was jailed for swindling more than £100,000 out of vulnerable elderly people and investing it in the business.

Joni Parrington, 36, was jailed for three years after a court heard she defrauded clients and used their money to invest in Beach Bourne Cross Fit on Hammonds Drive.

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SUS-150107-140519001

Parrington, also known as Joni Hobbs, pleaded guilty to six offences of fraud, one offence of money laundering, three offences of fraud by abuse of position, and two of fraud by false representation.

Gym owners Richard Robinson and Mark Goodwin said last week they had been caught up in Parrington’s web of lies and had no idea the money had come from illegal means.

In a statement the gym owners said, “Joni Parrington came to us as a trusted representative of a law firm offering investment.

“We had no reason to doubt her legitimacy and were obviously shocked and upset to hear about how she got the money.”

The gym owners were among a handful of people due to give evidence against Parrington but she pleaded guilty shortly before her trial was due to start.

Parrington was working at Lawson, Lewis Blakers law firm and misappropriated more than £100,000 from four clients.

Jeremy Sogno at Lawson Lewis Blakers said the law firm acted quickly when the matter came to light on January 3 2014.

“We discovered that Joni Parrington, a lawyer at our office in Peacehaven, had misappropriated money from four of our clients,” said Mr Sogno.

“We immediately informed the police, the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and our professional indemnity insurers. We have worked closely with them since the discovery.

“The first amount was taken in November 2013. The quick discovery of Mrs Parrington’s actions demonstrated the efficacy of our financial controls but we have comprehensively reviewed and tightened our procedures even further.

“As Judge Barnes emphasised during sentencing, Parrington was a long-serving and trusted employee who took care to conceal her actions and committed a gross act of betrayal. As soon we discovered her actions in January 2014, we suspended her. She was dismissed a week later following an internal inquiry.

“We paid back all the money stolen from the four clients on the day of discovery and offered them our sincere apologies. The clients involved suffered no loss.”

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