An employee who stole almost £14,000 while working for a failed Shropshire Council company has avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Penelope Wilkinson defrauded ip&e Ltd of the money in just over a year while working as a communications and marketing project manager.

At Shrewsbury Crown Court last Tuesday, the 43-year-old was given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years.

Judge Jim Tindal also ordered her to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and told her she must pay back the £13,950 in full.

He told Wilkinson she had been put in a position of trust and had abused it, adding: “There was an element of misdirection and concealment when you were under investigation as well.”

Wilkinson, of Patrons Drive, Sandbach, Cheshire, had pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position at a previous hearing, having initially denied the offence.

Charles Crinion, prosecuting, said Wilkinson had worked for the company – set up to generate income for Shropshire Council – from 2013 and in 2015 and had become the products marketing manager.

He said she took the money on dates between June 2014 and August 2015, by withdrawing funds and falsifying invoices to cover her tracks.

Mr Crinion said the fraud came to light during an audit of ip&e Ltd when a number of “irregular” payments were noticed and 14 false invoices were discovered.

The court heard Wilkinson was dismissed in February, last year, near the time the council decided to close down the enterprise.

Gareth Roberts, for Wilkinson, said his client had shown “shame” and “remorse” for her actions.