Diane Murfin is “properly ashamed of what she has done” and desperately wants to pay back the money she stole.
So said her barrister, Gregor Purcell, when she appeared at Nottingham Crown Court this week to learn her fate.
Murfin was supported in court by members of her family, including husband Gary, who is a builder and former local footballer.
“There is shame to bear, and her family feel that shame acutely,” said Mr Purcell.
“Mrs Murfin is a woman who will never be before these courts again because the whole process has been so hard for her.
“She has an aspiration to repay the money in full. She is trying to make good what she has done wrong.”
Mr Purcell said the Murfins owned their home, which they might have to sell to raise the money.
“She also wants to realise a pension she has with Nottingham Building Society, but initial inquiries suggest she will not be allowed to until the age of 60,” he added.
“She is desperate to gain new employment, but cannot do so with this case hanging over her.”
Mr Purcell insisted that Mrs Murfin’s crimes had not been triggered by greed, but by genuine care for her mother.
“What led to these offences in 2011 is sad and unfortunate,” he continued. “The way she responded was wholly regrettable.
“The purpose was not fund a lavish lifestyle, to pay for holidays, shoes or handbags. She took the money because she panicked.
“The money went directly to fund care for her mother, who had developed Alzheimer’s.
“She had cared for her for some time, but then she was presented with a bill that she could not pay. Her income was a modest £11,000 per year.
“It is sadly ironic that her mother’s care is now funded by the authorities -- as it would have been from the outset.
“What Mrs Murfin did is serious and inexcusable. But it is explicable in difficult circumstances. She did not set out to pick on the most vulnerable.
“She acknowledges the damage caused to her previous employer and is extremely sorry.”
Mrs Murfin, who has no previous convictions, had “crossed the boundary between honesty and dishonesty”, added Mr Purcell.