AN EMPLOYEE stole more than £3,000 from a Pickering antiques shop by refunding money on to her own bank card.

Samantha Pickering, of Goslipgate, Pickering, stole from her employer Daniel Froggatt between March and September last year, but claimed she always intended to repay the cash.

Pickering, 38, pleaded guilty to theft at Scarborough Magistrates Court in December and was sentenced at York Crown Court on Friday.

Prosecutor Charlotte Eastwood said Mr Froggatt first realised something was wrong in September when he twice tried to make payments from his business account, only to find not enough funds were available.

At that point he became suspicious and asked for a copy of all refunds from the account, to find that 15 refunds totalling £3,130 had been made since March, all to the same bank card.

At that point, Pickering confessed to her employer and said she had taken money to get through financial struggles, but claimed to have paid back much of the money by putting cash into the till, Miss Eastwood said.

In defence, Pickering’s barrister Glenn Parsons said she had a conviction for making a false benefit claim in 2000 when she was struggling as a single parent, but had since been a hardworking and honest person.

He said: “She has let herself and her friends down, and is extremely embarrassed to be before this court. She is also sorry for what she has put Mr Froggatt through.”

He said Pickering, who lives with her daughter and disabled mother, only stole to service debts and while she had originally paid back money she soon took more than she could afford to repay.

Both prosecution and defence accepted Pickering had repaid £500, he said.

Judge Stephen Ashurst, Recorder of York, handed Pickering a 12-month community order and 180 hours of unpaid work.

He said: “The public exposure will count as part of your punishment, especially in a small community like Pickering where word will soon get around.”

The judge also set a date for a Proceeds of Crime hearing to make Pickering repay the cash she still owes Mr Froggatt’s business.