Suspended sentence for former finance officer

Joanne Thornton arrives at court

A former employee of Visit Isle of Wight has been handed a suspended sentence

Joanne Lisa Thornton, 56, of Snaithing Lane, Sheffield appeared at Isle of Wight Crown Court this morning.

Thornton, a former finance officer at the Island’s destination management organisation, pleaded guilty to fraud and theft totaling £33, 875 in 2018. Sentencing had been deferred in November last year to allow Thornton the opportunity to repay the money.

The judge has ordered that the money be repaid in full in seven days, and Thornton was handed a 20 month suspended sentence on each charge to run concurrently.

Will Myles, Managing Director of Visit Isle of Wight said: ‘Visit Isle of Wight acknowledges and respects the sentence the court has handed down to Joanne Thornton today

‘The fraud and theft came to light initially following an internal audit of our finances. To trace the missing monies, a team of specialised forensic accountants were brought in, equipped to deal with the intricacies of a crime such as this.

‘The findings of the report were then handed to the police, who initiated proceedings against our former employee.

‘These crimes have been committed by Joanne Thornton alone, and she is responsible for this situation.

Will Myles also had this important message to Wight BID levy payers and Voluntary Contributors Visit Isle of Wight: ‘I continue to assure our Wight BID levy payers that all monies received have been used fully and in the correct manner in line with the Wight BID structure and plans.

‘I have put in place an array of people, processes and policies to ensure that this
situation does not happen again.

‘This day is a "line in the sand” and we must move on and do what we are best at,
namely marketing the Isle of Wight and bringing visitors to our shores, which annually accounts for £303 millions of economic impact.

‘Visit Isle of Wight has dealt with this situation, but it was not of our making – it lies firmly at the door of Joanne Thornton, who we trusted, but she stole from the organisation.’