An accounts clerk stole almost a quarter of a million pounds from the public relations firm where she worked to fund her gambling addiction.
Kay Fearnley, 55, was jailed for three years and nine months yesterday after she admitted stealing a total of £236,000 from Leeds-based Brahm PR.
Leeds Crown Court heard how the offences took place over a six-year period until her deception was uncovered when she was made redundant.
Fearnley, of Lark Hill Road, Gledhow, Leeds, inputted her own bank account details on a list of payments which were to be made to clients.
After a payment was made into her account, she would then amend the list to remove her details and avoid detection.
She continued the deception until her final day working for the company after being made redundant.
Louise Pryke, prosecuting, said Brahm had no record of the deception but Fearnley was arrested after her bank statements showed unexplained payments from the firm into her account.
She said: “It was a planned, thorough and systematic deception. She found a flaw in the accounts system and she exploited it.”
Mrs Pryke said much of the money had been spent on online gambling, credit cards, loans, holidays and shopping.
After her arrest, Fearnley initially lied that the money had been for her husband for work he had done for the company.
Graham Parkin, for Fearnley, said: “She was shocked when the total sum was put to her in interview.
“She could not believe the total amount. As often happens, she took the first payment with a then addiction to gambling.
“She always believed she could win enough money to put the money back.”
Mr Parkin said the money was not used to fund a lavish lifestyle, with her family living in a former council house and owning a second hand car.
He added that Fearnley had no previous convictions and was full of remorse for what she had done.
Jailing her, judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: “Most of it has gone on gambling. Some of it went on holidays. Whatever happened to it, it was a gross breach of trust.
He added: “It is a tragedy for you and for your family. I accept that you are remorseful and that you are unlikely to reoffend and you have no convictions.
“To go to custody for the first time will be difficult to bear.”