Yorkshire boss's £1.3 million theft spree

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A finance director stole £1.3m from her employers to lavish cash on clothes, cars and holidays.

Jane Jones, 45, was jailed for three and a half years after admitting theft from Squirrel Storage in Leeds.

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The mother-of-two, also known as Rebecca Bellan, transferred cash into her own bank accounts while working as a 90,000-a-year finance director.

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Leeds Crown Court yesterday heard she was employed by the firm, in Regent Street, in 1999 despite being banned from being a company director after a previous conviction for dishonesty.

Philip Adam, prosecuting, said Jones' efficiency impressed her bosses and she helped it grow from having a 2m annual turnover, in 2000, to 12m, by 2009.

She had full responsibility for payments made by the firm as well as

being in charge of the payroll, credit control and attending board meetings.

Her offending came to light when the managing director decided to replace her as she did not have formal accounting qualifications.

The new financial director investigated a complaint that an invoice for 12,000 had not been paid.

Investigations revealed that Jones had paid money into one of her own accounts.

Police were called and the full extent of her offending came to light.

She told officers she had illegally transferred sums ranging from 445 to 21,000 but expressed surprise at the total amount she had taken.

Mr Adam said: "She said the money was spent on holidays, cars, clothes and supporting a lifestyle which was financially beyond her."

Financial investigators discovered she spent 800,000 between 2004 and 2009.

Jones, of Cullingworth Fields, Cullingworth, pleaded guilty to theft.

John McDairmid, mitigating, said Jones had also spent money on assets including four properties and a time share property in Canada.

He said she had managed to find another job to pay the mortgages on the homes and had been working with lawyers to help recover the stolen cash.

The barrister said Jones was well regarded by her employers and had helped make it a commercial success.

He said: "Tragically, what she does honestly, she does well and it is remarkable in this case that even those from whom she stole are prepared to say that she was of great value to them in terms of building up the business."

He added: "On the one hand she was taking away, but on the other hand she was giving to the business."

Her husband is now seeking a divorce as a result of her offending.

Mr McDairmid said her credit cards were run up in stores such as Marks and Spencer and not "high worth designer clothes".

Jailing her, Recorder Jonathan Sandiford said: "It is perhaps fortunate

that company was successful because the loss of 1m could cause a

company to fail.

"I cannot fail to draw the conclusion that this was all about greed.

"The message has to go out that those who steal from their employers, as a breach of trust, must expect a custodial sentence."

Leeds Civic Hall.

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