Widow Debra Berger stole cash raised for Michael Sobell Hospice

Widow Debra Berger stole cash raised for Michael Sobell Hospice

Widow Debra Berger stole cash raised for Michael Sobell Hospice

First published in News Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A South Oxhey widow pocketed more than £2,000 raised by the community for the hospice that looked after her dying husband.

Debra Berger, of Heysham Drive, arranged fundraising events for the Michael Sobell Hospice, based at Mount Vernon Hospital, in pubs in the area and Northwood’s Nato base.

However, while people thought they were donating to the care of the terminally ill, Berger did not hand over the cash to the hospice.

The 52-year-old, who worked at Carillion, a cleaning company based at the Nato base, was found guilty on two charges of theft and two of intending to pervert the course of justice when she appeared at St Albans Crown Court yesterday.

Between June 3, 2011, and March 1, 2012, Berger stole £1,800 from Michael Sobell Hospice. She was also found guilty of stealing £500 from the same hospice between September 27, 2011, and January 21, 2012.

During the time the crimes were committed, the hospice needed to raise £1.2 million to help care for its patients with life-threatening illnesses.

Berger married her late husband Dave in 1984 and had three sons who are now in their 20s.

Mr Berger spent his final days at the Northwood hospice before passing away in September 2010.

The court heard Berger used to fundraise regularly for the hospice after her husband’s death.

The cleaning supervisor arranged for a team to participate in the hospice’s Ladies in the Night fundraiser in June 2011.

The group met at Berger’s home on the evening of the walk before travelling round nearby pubs with a collection bucket to gather donations.

Berger said a few days later she handed the bucket into the hospice, placing it on a desk in front of a member of staff, but denies ever being given a receipt for the donation.

Berger said: “I have never had a receipt from the day I walked into the hospice to hand over money from my husband’s funeral.”

Prosecuting barrister Philip Farr challenged Berger, stating she never handed the money into the hospice, adding: “I suggest after that [the Ladies in the Night event] you realised if you just kept quiet, maybe you could take the money from the cake sale too.”

The jury heard that Berger also arranged for a cake sale to take place at her workplace in September 2011.

Berger claimed the proceeds from the event were handed in by her colleague Graham Hobbs who she drove to the hospice and waited for in the car to deposit the money.

Berger said most of the £500 collected in the envelope consisted of pound coins and Mr Hobb must have been concealing these when he returned to the vehicle.

Mr Farr added: “It’s simply not true that you took Mr Hobbs to the hospice with the cake sale money.”

Mr Farr said that, according to Berger’s version of events, it is all “just a misunderstanding” and she is a “victim of circumstance”.

Mr Farr continued it was highly unlikely that such a “huge number” of unfortunate circumstances would have taken place.

Berger added: “It’s not unlikely, it’s horrifying.”

Berger said that Mr Hobbs went into the hospice with an envelope, adding: “As far as I was concerned the hospice had the money.”

In addition to two counts of theft, Berger was found guilty of doing an act intended to pervert the course of justice by writing a letter to her employers, Carillion, in which she stated co-worker Graham Hobbs was responsible for stealing the proceeds.

The final count on which the 12-person jury found Berger guilty was encouraging Beverley Waller, a friend and co-worker, to make a false and misleading statement to the police.
Berger is due to be sentenced next month.

Comments (14)

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4:06pm Fri 23 May 14

Henry VIII says...

I know Debbie and knew Dave her husband, I was at school with them.
Although this article may make some feel angry, please do know that Debbie is a good person, and her husband Dave was loved by so many. Sometimes good people do foolish things, but I just hope that people understand she is a good person deep down, not the dark character portrayed in this article.
My thoughts are with the Berger's on a tough day.
I know Debbie and knew Dave her husband, I was at school with them. Although this article may make some feel angry, please do know that Debbie is a good person, and her husband Dave was loved by so many. Sometimes good people do foolish things, but I just hope that people understand she is a good person deep down, not the dark character portrayed in this article. My thoughts are with the Berger's on a tough day. Henry VIII
  • Score: -29

4:35pm Fri 23 May 14

Last-Templar-69 says...

well said Henry.....
well said Henry..... Last-Templar-69
  • Score: -37

6:14pm Fri 23 May 14

Nightreader says...

Doesn't sound like a one off foolish act though does it?
Doesn't sound like a one off foolish act though does it? Nightreader
  • Score: 22

6:31pm Fri 23 May 14

GrimReaper14 says...

I'm glad she's going to get sentenced: 'She's a good person' - Good people don't steal: good people don't lie to the police and good people don't try to set up an innocent man...and good people don't lie to their friends claiming she was 'Set up'.

This woman has been playing the 'Mental Card' for over 2 years, trying to act crazy for her defense.

I'm not surprised...after all she is a Berger...I hope she get's Jail time, then I'll open the champagne...
I'm glad she's going to get sentenced: 'She's a good person' - Good people don't steal: good people don't lie to the police and good people don't try to set up an innocent man...and good people don't lie to their friends claiming she was 'Set up'. This woman has been playing the 'Mental Card' for over 2 years, trying to act crazy for her defense. I'm not surprised...after all she is a Berger...I hope she get's Jail time, then I'll open the champagne... GrimReaper14
  • Score: 40

7:34pm Fri 23 May 14

Nightreader says...

I doubt she'll get jail time. Hefty fine, pay every penny back and community service.
I doubt she'll get jail time. Hefty fine, pay every penny back and community service. Nightreader
  • Score: 14

12:46pm Sat 24 May 14

Butterfly124 says...

@grimreaper14
Very well said!! She's the sort that give South Oxhey a bad name!! It's got a great community spirit. Always has had. People come together when there is a tradgedy & help out! That's what makes what she has done over and over again so sickening!! I sincerely hope she gets time in Holloway! A long time. It's what she deserves! I've suffered 3 immediate family bereavements in 20 months. I have asked for nothing & not felt the need to steal from my friends!! Or a charity! The people that are coming out in Support of her on FB are the usual low life's like herself!! There but for the grace of god for some of them.....
Karma has finally caught up her!!
She even had the gall to plead not guilty!!! Thought she would get away with it!
@grimreaper14 Very well said!! She's the sort that give South Oxhey a bad name!! It's got a great community spirit. Always has had. People come together when there is a tradgedy & help out! That's what makes what she has done over and over again so sickening!! I sincerely hope she gets time in Holloway! A long time. It's what she deserves! I've suffered 3 immediate family bereavements in 20 months. I have asked for nothing & not felt the need to steal from my friends!! Or a charity! The people that are coming out in Support of her on FB are the usual low life's like herself!! There but for the grace of god for some of them..... Karma has finally caught up her!! She even had the gall to plead not guilty!!! Thought she would get away with it! Butterfly124
  • Score: 20

2:14pm Sat 24 May 14

pepsiman says...

No excuses accepted here. How can you check the real amount stolen, probably at least double reported. Puts genuine people off giving to all charities collected in this way.
No excuses accepted here. How can you check the real amount stolen, probably at least double reported. Puts genuine people off giving to all charities collected in this way. pepsiman
  • Score: 20

8:55am Sun 25 May 14

Butterfly124 says...

I don't personally know Bev Waller. Though if that's the way Debbie Berger treated a so called friend it's despicable. Debbie will heap the blame on anyone else to try and get herself off the hook. She did it time and time again when whe worked for county & was stealing regularly from patients. She just saw it as a perk of the job. There were a lot of happy colleagues the day her and her accomplice were sacked!
Bev Waller from what you say sounds genuinely sorry for being taken in by Debbie. Poor Graham Hobbs too what an ordeal for him. Not that Debbie will care!
I would love to see her go down & be properly punished for what she has done. She will play a blinder in her Mental Health Card &
I fear you are right she probably won't. To make matters worse she's apparently not one bit sorry & has been out on the lash celebrating court being over!! She is still denying she ever did anything wrong!! It's been "Poor me poor me, pour me a drink!!! I've been so hard done by!"
I don't personally know Bev Waller. Though if that's the way Debbie Berger treated a so called friend it's despicable. Debbie will heap the blame on anyone else to try and get herself off the hook. She did it time and time again when whe worked for county & was stealing regularly from patients. She just saw it as a perk of the job. There were a lot of happy colleagues the day her and her accomplice were sacked! Bev Waller from what you say sounds genuinely sorry for being taken in by Debbie. Poor Graham Hobbs too what an ordeal for him. Not that Debbie will care! I would love to see her go down & be properly punished for what she has done. She will play a blinder in her Mental Health Card & I fear you are right she probably won't. To make matters worse she's apparently not one bit sorry & has been out on the lash celebrating court being over!! She is still denying she ever did anything wrong!! It's been "Poor me poor me, pour me a drink!!! I've been so hard done by!" Butterfly124
  • Score: 14

7:56am Mon 26 May 14

garston tony says...

From the above comments this lady doesnt sound like the 'good' person the first poster claims she is.

having gone through the pain of losing her own husband to steal from the hospice that supported both of them in his last days is low, very very low. The money was meant to go towards the care of other people that face similar situations, taking it for herself gives the impression she does care for anyone but herself
From the above comments this lady doesnt sound like the 'good' person the first poster claims she is. having gone through the pain of losing her own husband to steal from the hospice that supported both of them in his last days is low, very very low. The money was meant to go towards the care of other people that face similar situations, taking it for herself gives the impression she does care for anyone but herself garston tony
  • Score: 16

8:48am Tue 27 May 14

WatfordBandB says...

There is no debate here, she is scum.
There is no debate here, she is scum. WatfordBandB
  • Score: 15

7:31pm Tue 27 May 14

Oxhey Kev says...

And Nigel Farage says he wouldn't want to live next door to a family of Romanians. Perhaps he should look nearer to home, not all crooks are foreigners !
And Nigel Farage says he wouldn't want to live next door to a family of Romanians. Perhaps he should look nearer to home, not all crooks are foreigners ! Oxhey Kev
  • Score: 10

9:21pm Tue 27 May 14

saab14 says...

And it makes you all feel good! ...unless you know her ( and I suspect one of you does) you really should just vent amongst yourselves. ...your petty jealousy is over shadowing the point you are trying to get across, all. Slating her and her family, behind the comfort of a made up name, you sat about what Dave would say, well he lived his wife and family and would be horrified that you "witch hunters" are stabbing him in the back....grow a pair!!!! .....Susan Barton
And it makes you all feel good! ...unless you know her ( and I suspect one of you does) you really should just vent amongst yourselves. ...your petty jealousy is over shadowing the point you are trying to get across, all. Slating her and her family, behind the comfort of a made up name, you sat about what Dave would say, well he lived his wife and family and would be horrified that you "witch hunters" are stabbing him in the back....grow a pair!!!! .....Susan Barton saab14
  • Score: -4

8:29am Wed 28 May 14

garston tony says...

Sorry, but what exactly do we have to be jealous about saab14?

If you think being found guilty of stealing money donated to help an organisation help people who are terminally ill is something to be proud of then I think we can safely ignore your comments.
Sorry, but what exactly do we have to be jealous about saab14? If you think being found guilty of stealing money donated to help an organisation help people who are terminally ill is something to be proud of then I think we can safely ignore your comments. garston tony
  • Score: 14

4:55pm Wed 28 May 14

saab14 says...

Again said behind your fake names....
Again said behind your fake names.... saab14
  • Score: -11

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