A MOTHER who stole almost £25,000 from her pawnbroker employers to pay bills and fund her teenage daughter’s college trip to New York has been spared jail.

Sharon Gill, manager of the Acklam Road branch of Ramsdens in, Middlesbrough, concocted false customer transactions for around a year to cover her thefts, Teesside Crown Court has heard.

Gill, 44, of Fielding Court in Billingham, admitted stealing £24,849.30 and a charge of false accounting.

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Jenny Haigh, prosecuting, said Gill managed to hide the deception through three internal audits and was only caught during the fourth when she stopped covering her tracks.

Gill told police the crime had become unsustainable by the time of the fourth audit but was “staggered” by how much had been stolen.

Ms Haigh said the theft was made up after Gill made up false transactions in existing customer’s accounts and then pocketed the money.

It was finally unearthed on December 10 last year and Gill immediately confessed saying she used the money to pay for her daughter’s trip and other bills.

Robert Mochrie, representing Gill, said the theft had originally been the “altruistic” action of a dedicated single mother suffering financial pressure.

He said Gill’s 18-year-old daughter had wanted to go on a college trip to New York, but she could not afford it.

Mr Mochrie said: “Being a dedicated mother she did not have the money to fund it so made the wrong decision.

“There is no evidence of a high-flying lifestyle with plasma televisions and posh cars on the driveway.”

Judge David Hatton said he wanted to give Gill unpaid work but was unable to as she is receiving a disability benefit.

He sentenced her to 20 months in prison suspended for two years with 12 months supervision from the probation service and a five-month curfew from 9pm to 6am.

Judge Hatton said: “You were in a very high position of trust.

“Where that money went to is not all together clear.”

Speaking after the sentencing, Ramsdens chief executive Peter Kenyon said: “Sharon had worked for Ramsdens for almost eight years, she was a well-liked and trusted member of staff and we are disappointed by her actions.”