A 'CYNICAL' thief who stole more than £100,000 from a Worcester nursery to spend on 'shopping' broke down in tears as she was jailed.

Jane Myhill claimed she stole the cash to fund 'a shopping addiction', splashing out on clothes, make-up and jewellery. The mum, supported at court by the vicar of Malvern Priory who provided a reference, has since sold her family home to pay the nursery back and cover the cost of the investigation. According to her legal representative, the money is frozen in her Barclays account. The Christian, now of The Croft in Cromer, Norfolk, stole the cash while working as the bursar for Worcester and Madresfield Early Years Centres.

However, the gesture was not enough to spare the 55-year-old from a jail sentence of two years and four months when she appeared before Judge Nicolas Cartwright at Worcester Crown Court today. Her face, partially hidden by a mask, visibly crumpled when the verdict was announced. She could be heard sobbing as she was led downstairs by a female dock officer who tried to comfort her. In total the defendant, who had no previous convictions, stole £102,593 over a four and a half year period beginning in January 2015.

Her sentence was observed by the woman she betrayed -Alice Bennett MBE who had been Myhill's friend, colleague and confidante for 20 years. Mrs Bennett had been battling for her life against aggressive breast cancer at the very peak of the thefts which escalated year on year, starting with smaller amounts. Mrs Bennett said after the hearing: "I forgave her long ago and now feel very sad that it's come to this. I pity her greatly and I'm sorry for her young daughter who is going to be without her mother for over a year."

Tim Harrington, prosecuting, said that Myhill had been employed first at Madresfield in 1998, later becoming the bursar. The defendant was tasked with banking £600 in September 2019 but she left work, saying she was ill. This drew attention to her and, ultimately, to anomalies in the accounts which led to her dismissal.

Mr Harrington said: "It appears that, in effect, in a difficult time for her personally, this defendant was stealing money to spend on shopping and she had some kind of shopping addiction. It wasn't stealing out of necessity. It was stealing because she spent money buying things for herself and others."