Family lived high life off missing millions
Adopting somewhat of a “Robin Hood” persona, she stole from her bosses to give to the poor, but Shirley Hendricks made sure her family had a taste of the good life too.
But yesterday the McDonald’s takeouts every second day, family holidays and golfing tournaments came to an end when a court sentenced a Port Elizabeth mother to 15 years in prison for stealing R17.2-million from Linde Material Handling between October 2007 and April 2013.
Magistrate Louis Claassen said he had considered a sentence of 20 years for Hendricks, 44, but her plea of guilty and show of remorse had convinced him to reduce it to 15 years.
In addition, she was a first-time offender. While Hendricks siphoned more than R17-million from Linde when employed as an administrative clerk, she managed to spend only R5-million before she was eventually caught.
Her husband, Bradley, 48, was sentenced to an effective seven years in prison for laundering the proceeds through his bank account.
He maintained that he was unaware of his wife’s theft, but conceded that he should have questioned the sudden increase in her income. Bradley pleaded guilty to money laundering, while Hendricks was convicted of fraud.
Echoing the emotions of the now-estranged husband and wife, their family in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court showed little emotion as the gavel came down on the pair.
Hendricks’s duty at Linde was to issue invoices to customers and collect outstanding debts. However, she forwarded falsified notices to Standard Bank, as well as Linde letterheads, to customers, informing them that the firm’s banking details had changed. She then gave them the details of an account opened by Bradley in the name of B&S Stationers.
Customers paid about R17.2-million into the account over a period of six years.
Hendricks eventually paid back R11.9-million, causing the loss to Linde to be just over R5-million.
Bradley said when he questioned his wife where all the money was coming from, she informed him that she was receiving performance incentives from work.
The couple split shortly after the charges came to light.
Claassen said Bradley had enjoyed the proceeds as much as his wife, including enjoying golfing at luxury estates.
“Every second day [Hendricks] bought the children McDonald’s. She then bought groceries and gave these to the street children at the robots , ” Claassen said.
“Hendricks had a Robin Hood mentality. She stole from her employer to give to others.”
On average, she misappropriated about R100 000 a month in addition to her salary.
Claassen said he had considered the wellbeing of the couple’s three children, especially the youngest child who was just 10 years old, but he was now being looked after by relatives.