A WORKER stole more than £1.3 million from a family business to fund her “ridiculous” gambling addiction and pay for lavish holidays.

Alison Smith, 42, from Caerphilly, was a financial manager who defrauded Blaenavon company Eiran Civil Engineering Ltd for nearly 10 years.

She would turn members of the family and colleagues against each after befriending them, Cardiff Crown Court was told.

Smith stole the money after she created hundreds of false invoices and transferred the money to herself.

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Roger Griffiths, prosecuting, said: “This fraud went on for almost a decade and the sum of £1,315,143.50 was lost to the company.

“It was a family business, they trusted her and thought nothing was wrong.”

The fraud was discovered when Smith resigned from her £32,000 per annum role in January.

“When she was interviewed by police she accepted she had stolen from her employer,” Mr Griffiths told the court.

“She said she had a gambling addiction and she denied she had a lavish lifestyle.”

But, Mr Griffiths added: "The victims believed she led a lavish lifestyle and was living beyond her means with expensive holidays and weekends away.

“Her children had nice cars and clothes.”

In a victim impact statement, family member Anita Lane said: “I find it hard to believe how cold and calculated a person could be.

“She would go to great lengths to discredit me to them (other family members).

“It has caused a large amount of emotional distress.

“I have been left not being able to trust anyone.”

Smith, of Marsh Court, Aberbargoed, admitted with the offence being committed between June 2012 and January 2022.

Smith had a previous conviction for theft by an employee from 2004 for stealing a company chequebook and writing out cheques to herself worth £3,200.

She was handed a 12-month community order for that offence.

Jeffrey Jones, representing the defendant, asked the court to give his client the appropriate credit for her early guilty plea.

Smith had referred herself to the Gwent Alcohol & Drug Service for alcohol misuse.

“She also had an entrenched gambling problem,” Mr Jones added. “She has gambled ridiculously.”

Her barrister said the defendant began gambling on online bingo before becoming addicted to slot machines.

Judge Shomon Khan told Smith: “They lost a life-changing amount of money.

“You used members of the family to cause divisions in the family to manipulate them.

“You took advantage of the power and responsibility you had within the company.”

The defendant was jailed for five years.

She is set to face a proceeds of crime hearing on February 24, 2023.