A COURT has heard how a woman who stole from the Cumbrian garden centre where she worked had previously been sacked for stealing £10,000 from an elderly customer while working at a bank.

Pamela Rudd, 31, did not tell her new employers about her previous conviction.

And they found out about it only after she was charged with stealing from them too.

At Carlisle Crown Court Judge Paul Batty QC told her she was “utterly and deeply dishonest” – both for committing the thefts and for keeping quiet about the first one when she applied for her job as manager of the garden centre.

Rudd, of Stone Crest, Warcop, Appleby, pleaded guilty to stealing seven haylage bales and a tray of eggs from the Garden of Eden, near Calthwaite.

She was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work.

Garden centre owner Jacqueline Radcliffe told the court that when she appointed Rudd as manager two years ago she had no idea that she was a convicted criminal.

She said she had checked Rudd’s references with the previous employers she knew about, but since she had not even mentioned that she had once worked in a bank she could not check her history there.

“I would never have let someone cash up if I had known she was a thief,” she said.

The court heard that Mrs Radcliffe had felt “deep distress”and still suffered sleepless nights because of what had happened.

Rudd – who was caught after her partner was spotted on CCTV loading the haylage bales onto a truck – denied keeping Mrs Radcliffe in the dark about the bank theft.

She admitted she had not mentioned it at her interview, but claimed she had told her after about two months in the job.

But after hearing her give evidence to that effect, Judge Batty told her: “I don’t believe a word of what you say.”

In mitigation defence barrister Greg Hoare said that though some people might think a prison sentence was justified, going to jail would have “a disproportionate affect” on her.

Judge Batty told Rudd: “By this plain brazen theft you have caused an awful lot of people and awful lot of grief. You ought to be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.”