A married dad is spending Christmas behind bars for pocketing £117,000 belonging to his bosses.
Trusted accounts manager Craig Gillis siphoned company cash into his own account during a five year con.
As a result, equipment supply firm Arrows Corporation, run by husband and wife Andrew and Helen Martin, struggled to pay wages and were forced to make another employee redundant.
Newcastle Crown Court heard Gillis had started helping himself to company money after his gambling habit got the better of him.
Gillis, 28, of Pinewood, Washington, admitted fraud and has been jailed for two years and two months.
Mrs Martin said in a statement read at his sentencing hearing: “This is such a large amount of money and we are devastated the person we trusted with our livelihood has exploited our trust to such a staggering extent.
“The bank manager was advising us he was close to closing the account.
“We could have lost our business but we have poured ourselves into it and carried on.”
“I’ve worked with him since he was 18 and I recruited him personally.
“I was completely unaware of what was going on and the abuse of trust hit me hard.
“He could potentially have ruined us.
“We were staggered to find the scope of the thefts was over £100,000.
“Since this, we have sold our family home and couldn’t afford the mortgage and bills and have had to downsize into a two bedroom cottage which we share with in-laws.
“I’ve had sleepless nights and this has been hanging over me.
“We had to make one member of staff redundant and I feel terrible about it.”
The court heard Arrows Corporation is an online company which sells items including industrial equipment, dog cages and motorcycle gear.
Gillis had worked there as accounts manager since 2008 and had full responsibility for managing the finances of the firm and its subsidiaries.
Between 2010 and 2015 he diverted more than £117,000 of funds to his own Paypal account, rather than that of the business.
It came to light last September when the Martins noticed pieces of industrial equipment for sale from Newcastle-based Arrows Corporation which had payment details which were not the company’s.
Stuart Graham, prosecuting, said: “This led to a more detailed review.
“There were 49 transactions between June and September last year alone where monies were diverted for various types of equipment.
“There were many hundreds of transactions over the years.”
When they confronted Gillis, he said: “Aye it was me, I’ve been taking the money. I’ve got a gambling problem and have been supporting my mother.”
Police were called and an investigation revealed that between August 2011 and September 2015 there were 538 withdrawals from Gillis’ Paypal account and £105,362 had then gone to his Barclay’s account.
Between July 2012 and September 2015 there had been transactions from his Paypal account to the Skybet online gambling website, amounting to £21,700.
In total, money from more than 1,200 items had been siphoned off, worth £117,000.
There may have been additional losses from postage and packaging and the equipment sold was still subject to a warranty which the Martins are having to honour and pay for any defective equipment.
Tony Davis, defending, said "family man" Gillis is married with two young children and has no previous convictions.
He added: “He had a gambling addiction, which is where the money has gone.
“There is simply no money available for recompense, unfortunately, because it’s been wasted on this hideous addiction."