A former accountant at a small family-owned firm who fraudulently transferred more than £140,000 worth of payments to her personal account has been jailed.

Alison Thomas, 52, of Tadworth Street, Tadworth was sentenced on Monday at Croydon Crown Court, having pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position on May 14.

She was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment for her offences.

Thomas had worked for seven years as the company accountant at the engineering business in south London.

Her role gave her access to and control of the company’s financial dealings and she was viewed as a vital and trusted member of the team.

Thomas used that position of trust to make payments to her personal account totalling £144,589 between December 2011 and January 2018.

Her fraud was discovered when one of the firm’s owners began to investigate why the company was not performing as well as it should have been. He became suspicious about how Thomas was able to fund a lifestyle of champagne lunches, foreign holidays and private education for her child on the wages she was being paid.

When the accounts were investigated further, he discovered regular payments were being made to Thomas’ personal account from the company and he confronted her. She admitted the offence to him at that time.

PC Stewart Bold of the Met’s Economic Crime Hub in Lewisham, said: “Thomas used her position of trust to withdraw large funds from the company to fund her own lifestyle. She lived beyond her means and treated the company’s account as her own.

"In doing so she put the company in serious financial difficulty.

"Fortunately this did not lead to the loss of any jobs and therefore further financial struggles for its employees and their families.

"The sentence she has received demonstrates the severity of her actions and I hope will act as a deterrent to others.”