An Asda worker has been jailed after she stole more than £450,000 from the company’s petrol kiosks over a four-year period.

Wendy Clements, who worked in the cash office of the South Bank supermarket in Middlesbrough, discovered that the electronic records on the tills were not linked to the “smart record” that she would submit to Asda’s head office.

This meant she could understate the amount of cash taken at the till and steal the difference.

Ian West, prosecuting, said: “Over the period, she took over £450,000 in cash. The system of recording cash takings has changed since.

“The matter came to light as a result of a call from someone who had been to her house and seen large amounts of cash just lying around.

“They thought it was unusual for someone working in modest employment.”

After police became involved Clements and three other members of staff were arrested and interviewed under caution.

But records showed the money only went missing when Clements was on duty and she eventually admitted the theft.

Victim impact statements from Clement’s colleagues were read to the court, describing the fear they felt at being falsely accused and the loss of privacy when their houses were searched top to bottom by police.

One of the workers said: “Being arrested for theft will be forever imprinted on my memory.”

Despite the huge sum stolen by Clements, the court was told she had spent it all on holidays for herself and family, meals out and even cosmetic surgery for someone else.

With no cash left, police and prosecutors ruled out trying to claim back compensation from Clements and said that Asda would have to pursue a civil claim to get back any of the money.

Sentencing Clements, Judge Stephen Ashurst said an aggravating factor was the traumatic effect Clements’ crime had on three innocent colleagues.

He said: “Between February and July last year they went to hell and back. You could have averted their acute distress by having the honesty to admit it when you were arrested. In my judgement that was a wicked thing to do.”

Clements was jailed for three years and four months at Teesside Crown Court after she pleaded guilty to theft and falsifying accounts.