A debt-riddern woman who stole about £20,000 from the not-for-profit charity nursery in Hebden Bridge where she worked as a trusted administrator has today been jailed for two years.
Bradford Crown Court heard that Katia Stojanovic, 33, used the money she stole from the Crossley Mill nursery to pay off mortgage arrears and other bills, but her offending led to financial difficulties for work colleagues and the nursery.
Prosecutor Simon Waley referred the Recorder of Bradford Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC to a number of victim personal statements from people who worked alongside Stojanovic and he said during the period of her offending staff had been asked to cut their hours because of the financial difficulties.
Mr Waley said the close relationships of the staff meant that the breach of trust was felt particularly keenly and the financial difficulties were exacerbated by the activities of Stojanovic.
Stojanovic's offending came to light after she left her post in January last year and in October she confessed to police that she had been making transfers of money into her own bank accounts and inflating her own working hours in order to pay herself more money.
She also used a company bank card to obtain further money from cash machines.
Mr Waley said the total sum taken was £20,767.16, but it was submitted that some of that money may have been used for legitimate business purposes.
Stojanovic, of Myrtle Drive, Halifax, pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud and one of theft and her barrister Abdul Shakoor urged the judge to consider suspending the prison sentence in his client's case.
The court heard that she had no previous convictions and was still in severe financial difficulties due to further mortgage arrears and personal debts of £10,000.
"She is extremely remorseful and throws herself at the mercy of the court," said Mr Shakoor.
He submitted that none of the money had been spent funding a lavish lifestyle and he said Stojanovic regretted her offending.
Judge Durham Hall said the defendant had been fortunate to be an essential part of a wonderful team of hard-working, decent, honest and caring people who ran the nursery.
He said over months and months she had stolen money repeatedly and signficantly from the nursery.
The judge said while other staff were devoting themselves to the care of the children they had left the finances to Stojanovic and she stole from them.
Judge Durham Hall highlighted how one of her former colleagues described feeling "sick to her stomach" and asking:"How could she do this?"
He said the case involved a very serious and deeply unpleasant breach of trust and he could not suspend the two-year jail term.
"You have brought this upon yourself," he told the defendant.