A COMPANY secretary repaid the trust of directors who had loaned her thousands of pounds to pay off debts by stealing more than £72,000 from them.

In a calculated fraud, Jane Henderson systematically stole from two Hampshire firms where she was responsible for the payroll and dealing with invoices and which gave her signing rights to company cheques and credit cards.

But for about two years she falsified invoices and the hours staff worked and wrote out cheques to cash.

It also led to the two New Forest firms – Langley Civil Engineering and Tubeline Scaffolding – paying out higher National Insurance contributions.

Henderson, 52, cruelly deceived Langley Civil Engineering director Darren Langley and Tubeline Scaffolding director Peter Potter when they had given her considerable help by loaning her £9,000 to pay off credit cards and £1,500 debts run up by her son, Alex, said prosecutor Siobhan Linsley.

Her dishonesty came to light when Mr Langley learned she had paid a parking fine with the company’s credit card, and decided to sack her.

He asked whether she had taken anything else but she denied doing so. However, she later told him she had taken £30,000-£40,000 from his firm.

She handed herself into police and in interview made full admission, the barrister added.

“She said she had been doing it for her son because he had a drug addiction and she was frightened of him if she didn’t give him the money.”

Ms Linsley then referred to the police statement of Mr Langley who said the fraud had caused him considerable stress and anxiety.

He said: “Jane Henderson was someone I had known for 20 years and trusted.

Through her actions a business that I have struggled and worked hard to establish nearly went bust. I have considered jacking it all in. I have not done so because of the impact it would have on the people I employ, the local community and my daughter. The whole thing has put a lot of pressure on me.

I cannot forgive Jane.”

Mr Potter told police she had taken 50 per cent of Tubeline’s profits for 2011 and consequently he had been forced to lay off a member of staff.

Henderson, of Mintys Hill, Whitsbury, admitted 13 counts of theft and fraud.

Jailing her for 20 months, Judge Peter Henry said: “You were in a position with a high degree of trust. Not only that, it is clear these two directors had gone out of their way to help you in your financial difficulties.

This was a slap in the face to those trying to help you."

In mitigation, Richard Onslow said: “There is no evidence of high living, money being splashed out on champagne, cars or hats for Ascot. All the money went to her wastrel son, Alex, with his drug habit and with debts to dealers. She gave him money – a mother’s love, I suppose.”