An admin assistant stole more than £600,000 to enjoy luxury holidays, cars and handbags after she was diagnosed with cancer.
Kathryn Jones, 50, took the money because she believe she would not be alive to face justice, a court heard.
The employee had taken the money from MGS Technical Plastics Limited, Lancashire, between January 2011 and November 2016, leaving the company in dire straits.
The company has also had to shell out £100,000 in legal fees.
Mitigating Jon Close said that after being diagnosed with cancer his client felt like the consequences disappeared because she ‘did not think she would be here’.
Preston Crown Court heard Jones had also given her co-defendant and former MGS customer service manager, Beryl Ann Shore an initial loan of £500, but continued to give her money, which eventually amounted to £184,654.
The court heard how Shore had expected the money to come out of her salary. But this never happened and money continued to enter her account on a regular basis.
Jones was an administration assistant and was in charge of paying wages to staff and had responsibility of the company’s internet banking.
She paid herself batches of money, including the sum of £18,000 after an audit review was carried out between April 2015 and March 2016.
Prosecuting, Paul Cummings said: ‘Jones had a trusted position in the company. There were four bank accounts used in her name when she took the money.
‘She said the money had been frittered it away on holidays to Cuba, Mexico and Tenerife. She said she was sorry for what she did.’
Jones, of Darwen, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft. Shore, 61, also of Darwen, pleaded guilty to a single count of theft.
Mr Close said his client had been diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and felt like she had a death sentence.
He said: ‘She had made three suicide attempts between October 2016 and April 2017.’
Rachel Woods, defending Shore, said her client was a customer service manager during the time the money was taken.
She said: ‘Unlike her co-defendant she was not going on expensive holidays. She accepts she paid for her family members to go on holiday.’
Jones was jailed for 28 months and ordered to pay the statutory victim surcharge.
Shore was sentenced to 16 months in prison but it was suspended for 12 months.
She was ordered to complete 21 rehabilitation activity requirement days and 100 hours of unpaid work.
Addressing Jones directly, Recorder Alex Simmonds said: ‘You have paid back a small fraction of what you owe.
‘The company had to pay £100,000 in legal fees in addition the company suffered periods of financial difficulty.’
The prosecution will now try to recover as much as the money as possible from assets belong to Jones and Shore and a proceeds of crime hearing will take place next year.
MGS Plastics’ managing director John Sturgess said he was delighted that the pair had finally faced justice.
He said: ‘We are glad that they had to face up to their greed, lies and deceit. It was a complete breach of trust and they had no regard whatsoever for the impact on colleagues.
‘We are a small company and take pride in our reputation and the wellbeing of our workforce. We knew immediately that it was the right thing to make sure they faced serious consequences and we have been overwhelmed with the support we’ve received.
‘The sentencing is the final chapter in a very long and unpleasant case and we are pleased that these thieves have been brought to justice.
‘The theft affected many people at MGS, and I want to thank my staff for their loyalty throughout it all, those who helped stop this and the police investigating bodies who brought these two thieves to justice.’
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Richard Buckley, said: ‘Jones and Shore have acted in pure greed, defrauding a family owned business from hundreds of thousands of pounds over a number of years.
‘Jones especially had been doing this for a long time, and despite her less than sophisticated approach, clearly thought she was going to get away with it.
‘Jones, who was entrusted to look after the company’s finances, took full advantage of her position and betrayed her long-term employers for her own personal gain.’