A VALLEYS woman in charge of supervising convicted criminals on unpaid work was “seduced” by one of her charges to commit fraud on his behalf, a court heard.

Julia Nash, 47, of Brynhyfryd, Ebbw Vale, “fell under the thrall” of Phillip Coates in 2011, entering a sexual relationship with him, Michael Hammett, prosecuting, told Cardiff Crown Court yesterday.

She bought several cars paid for on credit which she let Coates take, the court heard.

But she falsely incriminated her ex-husband, telling police he had stolen one of the cars when he was entirely innocent.

Nash, who was responsible for supervising convicts, purchased a VW Golf in March 2012 subject to a finance agreement, Mr Hammett told the court, but Coates took the vehicle and sold it on.

A similar incident happened with another vehicle and then again when Nash signed a finance agreement for a £22,000 BMW.

She allowed Coates to use the car, which then went missing, the court heard.

Instead of reporting the matter, Nash maintained the finance agreement for four months, the court heard.

Mr Hammett said: “Having given him three vehicles which went missing, she must have realised what was going on.”

Nash then bought a Vauxhall Corsa for £9,000 which she allowed Coates to drive away the very same day as she collected it.

“The defendant had agreed to be bound by the terms of the finance agreement when it was her intention all along that Coates would steal the vehicle,” Mr Hammett said.

The fraud and Coates’ theft of cars came to £17,500 in total.

Hugh Wallace, defending, said Nash had seen no personal financial benefit from the fraud and had in fact lost “a great deal of money”.

The court heard that in a police interview Coates said: “I thought she had a wicked credit rating. I seen a weakness and I took advantage.

She’s scared of me. I made her think I could get her sacked, [mess] her life up.”

Nash admitted two counts of fraud and one count of perverting the course of justice. The court heard Coates has already been sentenced for his involvement in the crimes.

Recorder of Cardiff Eleri Rees said the consequences Nash had already faced were “disastrous”, including losing her job and seeing her children move to Canada to live with their father, and it was therefore unnecessary to impose an immediate jail term.

She said: “You allowed yourself to become seduced into a relationship with a man who it has to be said is extremely dishonest.

“Coates himself accepted he may have applied pressure and made threats both physical and of a kind undermining your job.

“You are an intelligent woman and if you had stepped back for a moment you should have been able to appreciate you were becoming embroiled in very serious criminal activity.”

She imposed a 12 month suspended prison sentence and a 12 month supervision order.