A CROOKED bookkeeper who fleeced her employer out of at least £180,000 over a seven year period, has been sent to prison for two years.

Janet Probyn, aged 64, appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday, where the judge heard she spent the money on her two sons - one of which had a drug problem - and online gambling and bingo.

She'd already admitted that between 2010 and April 2017, while bookkeeper and accounts manager of Poole electronics and manufacturing firm CT Productions Ltd, she committed fraud by abuse of position.

Probyn, of Sunnyside Park, St Ives, Ringwood, manipulated currency exchanges to hide the fact she was overpaying her own salary, the court heard.

A victim impact statement from CT Productions Ltd managing director Mario Morilla explained 50 staff members were unable to have pay rises because of the fraud, and were worried about keeping their jobs.

Mr Morilla, who only learned something was wrong when the books were examined as part of a recent reorganisation, added he was unable to sleep at night and suffered anxiety and depression because of the inexplicable loss of funds.

He also said the situation was made worse "as the person who did it was considered a friend."

The thefts resulted in cash shortages, late client payments and damage to the firm's reputation, the court heard.

Mitigating, Robert Grey, said the majority of the money was spent on her son's drug debts.

Mr Grey added: "She pleaded guilty in the lower court, made a full admissions in interview. This is not a case where she had tried to place blame on colleagues - she admitted the offence.

"She is not going to find prison at all easy at her age, for someone who has never been to prison before. She is remorseful, she herself has had difficulties in her life."

The court was told Probyn had been convicted of fraud before, in 2008, for cashing seven fraudulent cheques over a six month period while also working as a bookkeeper in West Moors.

Sentencing Probyn - who has since been declared bankrupt - to two years in prison, Judge Simon Levene said: "You have pleaded guilty to three offences of fraud. By your fraud you have siphoned off, over seven years, the total of £180,000.

"The impact was immediately felt, other employees were fearful of their jobs because of you. There is no hope of the company ever getting the money back."

The judge also highlighted that Probyn started the fraud not long after a suspended sentence had passed following a similar offence. But he accepted Probyn would have felt under "great pressure from her son to commit these offences".