A former building society worker who stole more than £17,000 from a customer wept as she was spared jail.
Claire Massey, 41, of Princes Avenue, Desborough, took the money from the account of an elderly man over the course of several months last year, Northampton Crown Court was told.
Massey was working at a branch of Britannia in Wellingborough when the thefts were carried out.
The court heard how a financial investigator for Britannia had become suspicious after several large transactions were made from accounts by a customer.
Prosecution barrister Alex Bull said there were three large transactions made between July and September.
Massey was later interviewed by the investigator, and initially denied any wrongdoing had taken place. However, a few days later she contacted the investigator and made full admissions.
Mrs Bull said Massey had been experiencing financial difficulties since the break-up of her marriage, and had used the money to make repairs to a home she had bought.
She had also bought a new car.
Defence barrister Maxine Krone said following the breakdown of her marriage, Massey had purchased a new home which had needed some considerable work.
She added: “She had never dealt with money previously and got herself into a bit of a mess.
“She is thoroughly ashamed and sorry about what has happened.
“She did not steal this money to fund a luxury lifestyle, but simply to provide a life for her children, who are six and 11, and herself.”
At the hearing last Friday, Recorder Sam Mainds said: “You should go to prison for this offence – people usually do.
“You selected this particular elderly person because they were particularly vulnerable.
“However, I take notice of your acceptance of your dishonesty at a very early stage in the process.
“You also have two children, and I don’t know the sort of support they would have if you went immediately to prison.”
Massey was handed a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. She was also given a 200-hour community punishment order.
The court was told that Massey’s father had agreed to release some equity from his own home to pay back the money. He was commended by Recorder Mainds.