A FRAUDSTER who conned her bosses out of tens of thousands of pounds has been spared jail after a judge told her: “I hate sending women to prison.”

Office manager Sophie Franklin, 30, from Basildon, splashed out nearly £38,000 on her company debit card - spending the cash on designer clothes, make-up, and sunglasses for her and her friends.

Inner London Crown Court heard that she spent £7,000 on taxis and more than £14,000 on mobile phones and bills between January 2014 and August 2016 while working for Circle Square Agency, based in Bermondsey, south east London.

She also splashed out more than £1,500 on flights and hotels abroad including to Rome, St Lucia and Hong Kong. Money was also spent on Apple products and theatre tickets - all at the company’s expense.

Her fraud only came to light after she left for a new job and her replacement began to cross check and audit invoices which Franklin had been responsible for.

The court heard the total loss to the company, including the cost of the audit, was £37,997.

She was jailed for 18 months, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to one count of fraud.

After taking her plea at a previous hearing, Judge Owen Davies QC told her: “I hate sending to prison women who have not been to prison before and who have been convicted for the first time of a criminal offence.

“It seems to me that £38,000 is a lot of money and as demonstrated to me today is not uncommon.”

As office manager, Franklin was responsible for booking travel and accommodation for staff, ordering stationary and authorising expenses.

The court was told the fraud and “breach of trust and responsibility” had a “substantial” financial impact on the company.

Gerard Renouf, prosecuting, said: “The offence is sophisticated in nature as there had been significant movement of paperwork to cover her tracks.”

The court heard Franklin has now paid back just over £34,000 to her old employer.

Paul Renteurs, in mitigation, said there was “genuine remorse” from his client and that she wanted “to put right the wrong she had done.”

Sentencing Franklin, Judge Davies QC told her the offence “was a very serious matter” and the cash stolen was a large amount of money.

He said: “Over a period of two years to when you left the firm in August last year, you used their money to rack up personal expenditure of your own to the sum of some £37,000.”

He said the total included the cost to the company of an audit of the books which “reflected the damage to this firm.”

He added: “You used your position to use the funds to live a life beyond what you were paid for.

“I hope this the last time you will appear before the criminal court. I perceive you have learnt a lesson and become a lot more mature since these fraudulent transactions.”

Judge Davies QC said “nothing would be achieved at all” with a custodial sentence.

As well as the suspended jail term, Franklin was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and to pay back the final sum in compensation to Circle Square Agency.