A Walsall mother-of-three who fiddled £17,000 from the firm where she worked as company secretary to maintain her lavish lifestyle has been put behind bars for four months.
Sharon Shardlow, 44, was caught out after other members of staff noticed she was more affluent with a new car and an extension being carried out at her Coronation Road home.
There was also talk at the office that Shardlow, who was sending one of her children to a fee-paying school, had flat-screen TVs on every wall, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.
Recorder Francis Judd QC told Shardlow, who worked for Hollander Rainer Ltd before being sacked, she had committed a string of serious offences over a three-year period. “You were in a position of trust and you abused it,” she added. “You used this money to present a false lifestyle.
“I have no doubts a prison sentence will be a real blow for your family but I do feel compelled to send you away.”
Shardlow, who was earning £22,000 a year with the company, admitted 13 charges involving fraud and dishonesty.
John Evans, prosecuting, said that she started work for the firm in 2002.
However, she began adding extra payments to her salary to prevent her bank account going over her £3,500 overdraft limit.
She also obtained goods using the company’s credit account without permission from stores including Dixons and Travis Perkins - much of it to furnish the new extension at her home.
Wendy Miller, defending, said Shardlow now had major financial problems with debts totalling £70,000 because she had tried to maintain the false lifestyle.
Miss Miller said: “She buried her head in the sand and she continued to pay herself extra money.”
She added that the situation was “spiralling out of control” before Shardlow’s arrest by police.
Miss Miller said it was always the intention of Shardlow to repay the money back to her former employers but she had never been able to get into that position.