Mother-to-be of triplets stole pounds 20,000 for IVF

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The Independent Online
A mother-to-be escaped jail yesterday for the theft of pounds 20,000 after a court was told she had stolen the money to pay for fertility treatment that had led to her conceiving triplets.

Michelle Darby, 27, of Bracknell, Berkshire, is due to give birth next week. Mr Recorder Joseph Boothby, sitting at Reading Crown Court, told her the background to her multiple pregnancy left him unable to give her a custodial sentence.

The court was told that she had become pregnant before as a result of IVF treatment and had given birth after six months to a child with spina bifida and extensive brain damage. The baby died.

Darby, a trainee accountant, admitted six charges of theft and six falsifying accounts to a total of pounds 1,053. She asked for a further 153 other offences totalling more than pounds 19,055 to be taken into account.

The judge said: "I am unable to bring myself to send you to prison while facing a triplet pregnancy. Many would shed tears for your history and what you have been through."

Darby told police after her arrest that years of trying for a baby had led to things "getting out of hand".

Isabel Dakyns, for the prosecution, told the court how Darby was employed by TransNational Financial Services Ltd, in Reading, first as a clerk and then later as a assistant accountant. "During that time she used her position as an accountant to steal money from the company." Miss Dakyns said Darby used the money to pay off credit card bills.

Sheilagh Davies, for the defence, told the court: "Mrs Darby has made a complete and frank admission. It is difficult to understand how a woman of good character in a trusted position should commit these offences.

"Her greatest desire was to start a family. The obsession took over to such a degree that the person was no longer able to function."

The court was told it took seven privately-funded fertility treatments for Darby to become pregnant with the triplets.

Mrs Davies said the stolen money stolen had not contributed to a "glory lifestyle". Darby's home is in negative equity and her former employer is taking civil action to reclaim the losses. "Despite the joy of the forthcoming babies, her happiness is tinged with anguish for the future," she said.

Darby was given a 12 month suspended jail sentence and a 12 month supervision order.