A DENTAL nurse stole thousands of pounds from her practice because she felt under-valued and less-qualified colleagues were earning more.

Rebecca Seymour took the money in modest amounts over a year - and spent it straight away on grocery shopping at Iceland.

When she was quizzed by police, the 31-year-old also said she did not like working there and was denied the holidays she wanted to take.

Seymour dodged prison when she appeared at Teesside Crown Court where a judge heard she is now working at another dental surgery.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, asked her lawyer, Michele Turner, if her new bosses knew about her court case.

Miss Turner replied: "She hasn't told her family, she hasn't told her friends such is the embarrassment, so I find it unlikely she she has told her employers."

The judge said: "Well, I think they're about to find out."

Miss Turner said the new job was going well and Seymour had been given added responsibilities and increased hours in an administration position.

She explained how bosses from her previous workplace, Genix Health Care on Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, turned up in April and Seymour immediately thought it as because of her thieving.

She immediately left the building without explanation and without reason, said Miss Turner, adding: "That may be aroused suspicion."

It was discovered that just short of £4,000 had been stolen in the year Seymour had worked there, police were called and they contacted the defendant a fortnight later.

After voluntarily going to speak to officers, she confessed straightaway, and said she was ashamed and sorry, said prosecutor Harry Hadfield.

Mr Hadfield told the court: "She was shocked to find out how much it was. She said she spent the money straight away on shopping trips to Iceland.

"She said she was unhappy with the practice because they would employ people with less qualifications than her and they would be paid more.

"She said she felt under-valued, did not like working there, could not get the holidays she wanted, and wanted to get a job somewhere else."

Seymour, of College Road, Middlesbrough, admitted theft and was given an 18-month community order with 140 hours of unpaid community work.

Judge Bourne-Arton told her: "Over a period of nearly a year, you were stealing from your employers and you were doing so in a well-organised manner. It was planned and very well executed and persistent.

"You took steps to cover your tracks so you would not be detected, but eventually you were.

"You have new employment. That job must now be in jeopardy, bearing in mind your new employers do not know about this hearing."

Th court heard that Seymour used two different log-ins on computers and deleted payments from random patients to pocket the money for herself.

She back-dated the payments so the patient did not show up as in debt and raise suspicion.

When the area manager was alerted to the activity, she checked CCTV and it showed Seymour going into work on a Sunday morning when the office was closed.