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'Arrogant' spa receptionist's 'sophisticated' revenge after being fired

By Sophie Corcoran & Jonathan Chubb

A former receptionist at a spa who was fired after just two days took petty revenge on her former employer by deleting hundreds of appointments from the computer booking system.

Lauren Arafat, 30, carried out the "sophisticated" operation over the course of just half an hour which led to her deleting 211 appointments. Despite this, she claimed that she does "not have any particular skills when it comes to computers", adding she "is known to be hopeless with technology and is someone who needs help putting her out of office on".

Arafat had worked as a receptionist at The Potting Shed Spa in Batley, Yorkshire, for just two days when she was "let go" by the director after exhibiting "erratic" behaviour, reports Yorkshire Live. Leeds Crown Court heard the 30-year-old, who lives in Elland, had been trained up to use the Phorest Software system, which was used by employees at the Spa as a way of booking appointments.

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Following her departure from the business on June 8, 2019, she logged back into the system and deleted hundreds of appointments. In a callous move, she also deleted the appointments under another employee's name in an attempt to hide what she had been doing.

Andrew Picken, prosecuting, said: "Sam Pearce, the director of the company had built the business up for nine years. She interviewed Ms Arafat in May 2019 for a receptionist job and trained her on the Phorest software system, which took place on May 30, 2019. A profile was set up for the defendant on that and she started work on June 1.

"Her second shift was on June 1, 2019. She behaved erratically and there were a number of issues resulting in the director having a staff meeting and ending her employment.

"She left the building and the director then cancelled appointments for the rest of the day as a result of the issues that arose. The defendant left, and then logged onto the system using her iPhone and deleted a number of appointments."

The Potting Shed Spa at Batley (The Potting Shed)

The court heard that Mrs Pearce had to close the business for two working days to deal with the issues that arose from Arafat's offending. Mr Picken said: "It is the Crown's case that that action [Arafat's] caused irreparable damage. The director had to phone clients to rebook their appointment and find out whether others had been deleted."

The Potting Shed Spa went on to close, although Mr Picken said the prosecution could not prove whether it was Arafat's actions that caused it to fail but it was their position that they did cause financial harm. The court heard Arafat was interviewed in January 2021 and made no comment in her interview but went on to plead guilty to an offence under section 3 of the Computer Misuse Act, unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing the operation of a computer.

In a victim personal statement, Mrs Pearce said she has suffered from PTSD as a result of Arafat's actions, which she said was an "aggressive attack that breached privacy and her intention was to cause as much damage as possible". She added that the attack had left her unable to trust anyone and it had been a "living nightmare".

Mitigating, Chloe Fordham, told the court that Arafat had been studying to be an occupational therapist but had dropped out while the investigation was ongoing and would have to apply to the Royal College of Occupational Therapists before starting it again. She said that she had also lost her law and a teaching degree and "letters after her name" as a result of the investigation. Ms Fordham said that following an appeal those had been reinstated.

Arafat had only worked for the business for two days (Lauren Arafat)

She said: "I ask you [the judge] to take into account that she has been on the receiving end of a number of complaints made about her to institutions where she has been learning and working. In response to the complaints, she has not retaliated or made the matter any worse, she has not sought to make problems in recent years for Sam Pearce. She has had significant problems for what has happened to her already but the court can trust her not to commit further offences."

The court heard that in an interview with a probation worker for her pre-sentence report, Arafat came across as "arrogant". Judge Simon Batiste said that he did not find that Arafat's actions led to the failure of The Potting Shed, but the "cancelling of so many appointments would lead to financial loss to them".

He said there was an "element of sophistication" in her actions, as she sought to change her identity to another employee while deleting the appointments. As he made her the subject of a two-year community order and ordered her to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and 15 days of rehabilitation activity, the judge said: "You chose to hide your identity and put suspicion on another and were clearly motivated by revenge.

"If, in the next two years you complete the work and rehabilitation and commit no further offences, that will bring the matter to a close. But if you commit another further offence you can be brought back to this court and be sentenced. If you don't do the unpaid work, I am going to reserve any breaches to myself.

"I make it clear to you that if you come back in the future to me and you have not done the work required I will resentence you and I will lock you up - do you understand that? I'm giving you a chance but one chance only. I get the feeling from the pre-sentence report that you are a relatively arrogant person who puts yourself and your self-importance rather too highly."

Arafat was also made the subject of a restraining order for five years prohibiting her from contacting Mrs Pierce directly or indirectly during that time.

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Dive Deeper:
Arrogant spa receptionist fired after two DAYS takes 'sophisticated' revenge
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