A WOMAN who swindled more that £130,000 from her bosses has been spared jail after her elderly mother remortgaged her home to repay her debt.

A judge showed Caroline Geoghegan extra leniency after she blamed the sudden death of her father and PMT for "going off the rails."

Geoghegan, 45, of Clementine Avenue, Seaford, started stealing petty cash from Eastbourne accountants Plummer Parsons where she had been working for ten years in June 2015.

Her deception continued until August 2017 when she was caught out by a random twist of fate, by which time she had paid herself an extra £133,698.

Beverley Cherrill prosecuting told Hove Crown Court: "She started taking from petty cash, then paying about £21,000 of cheques to cash.

"She graduated then to raising two cheques for each invoice. The first one she made out to herself by having the clients name printed on clear tape then getting one of the partners to sign off. Then she would take off the tape and substitute her own name.

"She then paid it into one of three bank accounts she had opened for the purpose of receiving this money.

"She would then raise the second cheque in the customer's name, this time getting a different partner to sign the cheque.

"She managed to continue these thefts without being detected for two years.

"It came to light in August when a client contacted the company querying a payment. The computers had gone down due to a power cut.

"Mrs Geoghegan was on leave and someone else looked into it and they discovered a number of cheques made out to her benefit."

Judge Recorder Joshua Swirsky agreed to suspend Geoghegan's prison sentence after hearing she had paid £108,000 of the money back after her elderly mother released the equity in her home.

Pleading for leniency Rosalind Crook defending the mother of two said her offending had started after he father died suddenly from liver cancer.

She told the court: "Her father became ill at the beginning of 2015. He went to hospital in April and was diagnosed with liver cancer and died two weeks later.

"She then had to keep going and look after her mother who is in her eighties. She was concentrating on looking after her family and unfortunately started stealing. She doesn't know why she did it, she just did.

"Apparently the death of her father started this and there can be a link between death and stealing.

"Mrs Geoghegan has taken steps to find out why she has done this and what the problem is. She accepts she has a problem with depression and PMT and alcohol. At times drinking a bottle of wine a day."

Geoghegan pleaded guilty to theft and false accounting at a previous hearing.

Following the sentencing hearing at Hove Crown Court on Thursday, Caroline Geoghan told The Argus: "My dad died and I went off the rails.

"I did it and I have any excuse.

"People don't understand what it is like having depression and watching someone die

"Now I'm just trying to protect my children."

When asked if she wished to apologise to the employers she betrayed she said: "Of course I want to apologise to them.

"But I don't suppose any amount of apologising will make up for what I have done."