Couple jailed for using £1m from hospital on their estate
A couple who splashed out on a Turkish villa and home improvements at their country pile using £1.1 million stolen from hospital bosses have been jailed for a total of ten years.
Andrew Baker, 65, and his wife, Anne, 61, installed cascading waterfalls and fountains in the grounds of their 2.5 acre Grade II listed estate in Cornwall.
Manderley, built in the 17th Century near Launceston, is a popular venue for wedding couples, boasting its own golf course, exotic bird aviary and koi carp lake.
The Bakers also invested almost £100,000 in a luxury villa in Bodrum, Turkey, and owned two Jaguars and an Aston Martin.
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Belfast-born Mrs Baker swiped the cash during a 'breathtaking' 13-year con while she worked as a radiology department manager at the Princess Grace Hospital in Marylebone, central London.
Using her maiden name, Fitzpatrick, she pocketed £1,142,101.02 by submitting a string of bogus invoices to a fictional radiologist, Dr Baker, for consultancy services.
The 'well-oiled' fraud – which allowed Mrs Baker to take home four times her monthly salary – took place between 1998 and 2012, when the hospital was run by HCA International.
Mr Baker, who met his current wife in 1971 after divorcing a former partner, knew 'full well' what she was up to and was a key beneficiary of the loot, Southwark Crown Court heard. He also transferred £85,000 into two Turkish bank accounts and stashed £25,000 in a gun cupboard at his home.
Jailing Mr Baker for six years and his wife for four years, the judge, Mr Recorder David Aaronberg QC said: "It beggars belief to suggest that (Mr Baker) thought this was all legitimate income.
"It was very easy for Mrs Baker, in a position of trust, to create a fictional doctor, to submit invoices in his name. She was in a gross breach of trust over more than 13 years.
"Previous good character only goes so far when it comes to offending behaviour of this kind."
The judge told Mr Baker: "I take the view that you are equally culpable, you chose to contest this matter and you deceived the jury and the court with your explanations which were patently untrue."
Mr Baker claimed he had 'no idea whatsoever' about his wife's wrongdoing, insisting he had obtained the cash legitimately from his late father and the sale of a flat in Putney, southwest London.
But a jury of seven women and five men convicted Mr Baker of two counts of money laundering following a week-long trial.
Anne Baker admitted false accounting and money laundering prior to her husband's case. She authorised forged invoices about once a month, with annual amounts varying between £80,000 and £179,000.
The couple, who run A&A Venues, raked in a fortune hosting events at Manderley.
Justin Rivett, defending Mrs Baker, claimed she had turned to crime because she found it "very difficult to make ends meet".
"She accepts full responsibility for her actions," he added.
"Initially she hadn't set out to defraud her employers over a long period of time but events just simply carried on."
Priya Malhotra, defending Mr Baker, a qualified civil engineer who has worked on contracts for the US and British military, said he was not the main player in the fraud. "It is squarely on the shoulders of his wife."
Andrew Baker, of Manderley, South Petherwin, Launceston, denied two counts of money laundering. Anne Baker, of the same address, admitted two charges of money laundering and false accounting.