A MANAGEMENT accountant for a heritage railway company helped herself to £36,781 of company money, a court heard.

Corina Elaine Heslop is accused of transferring money to herself by purporting to be making payment to suppliers of British American Railway Services, which runs the Weardale Railway, in County Durham.

But the eight cheques, for amounts of between £1,696 and £7,238, were paid into an account in her maiden name of Corina Smith.

Durham Crown Court heard that she took steps to cover for her actions by amending computer banking records.

But, shortly after she left the company, in March 2010, another employee found several company cheque stubs had gone missing and failed to find them after a search.

It is alleged Heslop surreptitiously went into the company office compound, alongside Stanhope Railway Station, late at night on a bank holiday weekend, to “sabotage” the computer system, to further cover for her illegal transactions.

Nadim Bashir, prosecuting, said CCTV footage in the station car park showed a figure furtively entering the office and leaving, before returning later at night.

Mr Bashir said a taxi driver saw cars in the vicinity at around the relevant times which matched those of Heslop and her husband, James Raymond Heslop, who is alleged to have been the look-out.

The problems emerged with the company computer system when staff returned to work the following week.

It was discovered that four switches in the main fuse box had been knocked off completely, preventing power going to the system.

When power was restored data was found to have been wiped off the system and all accounting records had disappeared overnight.

Mr Bashir told the trial jury: “The Crown would say these two went there and she sabotaged the IT system, and so police investigations began.”

The pair were arrested and while helping with police inquiries their home was searched and documents were recovered, as well as their computer.

Mr Bashir said it revealed Heslop had “doctored” documents to cover for her actions.

He added that Heslop accepts paying the money into her account, but she claims that it was money to which she was legitimately entitled.

Corina Heslop, 42, denies eight counts of fraud. Both she and her 45-year-old husband, of Rookhope Grove, Bishop Auckland, deny possessing articles for use in fraud and damaging property at the company office.

The trial continues today.