A MUM who stole more than £139,000 from her employers to pay off the previous company she had stolen from as well as a luxury holiday and 40th birthday party for herself has been jailed.

Warrington Crown Court heard on Friday Deborah Jukes pocketed £139,057.50 over 18 months from employers Schwer Fittings Ltd, Latchford.

The 41-year-old, of Chandler Way, Lowton, frittered away the cash on a ‘lavish lifestyle’ including a holiday for her and her five-year-old daughter in Puerto Rico, a 40th birthday party paying for everything for herself and 100 guests and sending her daughter to private nursery.

She was described as being of ‘previously good character’ despite stealing more than £12,000 in one go to pay back her previous employer.

David Jones, prosecuting, said Jukes had stolen £9,000 from the last company she worked for to have her kitchen re-fitted and they were putting pressure on her to pay the money back although it was never reported to police.

The thefts took place between April 2010 and December 2011 with 103 regular payments varying from £486 to £12,150 during which time Jukes earned more than £26,000 in wages from the company as a bookkeeper.

The fraud was discovered when another member of staff found the accounts to be in a ‘mess’ in August 2011.

Mr Jones added: “No staff lost their jobs but it could have placed the company in a position close to liquidation if it had gone on much longer at this level.

“The managing director said it had caused a massive amount of stress and he had struggled to sleep since.

“The business employed local people and could have had a dramatic effect on productivity and the lives of staff.”

John Barnes, defending, said she had pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and made full admissions in interview.

Judge Nicholas Woodward said Jukes spent the money on a lifestyle she could not possibly afford.

He added: “Fortunately the theft fell short of people losing jobs but all of the money has gone and is not going to be recuperated.

“One view would be it was a deliberate theft just to make your life better but perhaps a more accurate summation is that your behaviour could be associated with the breakdown of your relationship and filling a void in your life.”

She was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Wolfgang Moellers, acting managing director of Schwer Fittings Ltd, said he was disappointed the first company Jukes worked for did not report her to the authorities.

He added: “I’m feeling shock and pure anger that someone could put the livelihoods of around 20 hard-working people at risk.

“The thefts were carried out in a way which made them well hidden and was with some determination.

“It’s quite disturbing someone would take money from a small company, especially in this economy, with staff who have homes and children and depend on a secure income.”