A ROMSEY firm’s new finance boss put jobs at risk after embarking on a £34,000 crime spree just three weeks after joining the company.

Lynsay Railton stole the cash to pay household bills and buy luxury items such as a £150 bottle of pink champagne, Southampton Crown Court was told.

James Kellam, prosecuting, said the drain on the company’s finances could have resulted in people losing their jobs.

Railton was recruited by Universal Marine Medical, of Greatbridge Road, which supplies pharmaceuticals to ship doctors.

Mr Kellam said: “In August 2016 she was employed as their finance manager and within three weeks was stealing from the company.

“The defendant took money and used company credit cards for her own benefit.

“She stole from her employer in every way imaginable. She even changed her tax code so that effectively she was paid more.”

Mr Kellam said Railton made 90 false transactions, stealing a total of £34,204.

He read an impact statement written by Colin Rees, the company’s director of operations, who said: “At first we thought we’d found a gem but she totally betrayed our trust.”

Railton, 40, of Avery Fields, Eastleigh, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation and two of theft.

Zoe Chapman, mitigating, said: “A lot of the detriment (to the company) was potential and did not eventuate. The business is still viable.”

Ms Chapman said the defendant had shown “significant remorse”, adding: “She has long-standing mental health issues which she has more recently begun to address. These offences acted at a catalyst.”

The court heard that Railton had found another job and was now in a position to repay £20,000 of the money she stole.

Judge Gary Burrell QC told her: “What you did involved a significant breach of trust. You were a trusted financial controller who took money for yourself, knowing you were not entitled to do so.

“It was mean and unpleasant, and merits an immediate custodial sentence.”

But Judge Burrell said he had to take several factors into account, including a brain injury the defendant suffered two years ago.

He added: “I accept you are suffering from chronic anxiety and depression. I also accept you are remorseful have no recent relevant convictions.”

Railton was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years. She was also ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and repay £20,000 within 42 days.

Speaking after the case Mr Rees said Railton committed more than 90 acts of theft and fraud between August 2016 and May 2017.

He added that the defendant had been “extremely clever” in covering her tracks.

“If the thefts hadn’t been uncovered the company would have had to reduce its costs and people would have lost their jobs,” he said.