A cleaner has been jailed for a “despicable” breach of trust after she stole from the home of a family friend.

Joy Vanessa Garnett, 59, stole hundreds of pounds from Cerys Hughes’ home in Chester Road, Gresford, during the course of a year.

She also stole £20 from the home of Mrs Hughes’ son, Daniel.

Garnett, of Herbert Jennings Avenue, Acton, Wrexham, had worked for Mrs Hughes for about nine years and over that time the two had grown to be close friends.

But deputy district judge Derek French said Garnett had acted in a “calculated and betraying manner” which had left Mrs Hughes absolutely devastated.

Appearing before Wrexham Magistrates Court yesterday, where she admitted two counts of theft, Garnett was jailed for a total of 16 weeks.

Garnett had been taking money from a bedside drawer at Mrs Hughes’ home over a prolonged period.

She had taken £10 to £20 on every occasion and it was accepted she had stolen £260 over the last year at a minimum.

But it could not be known how much Garnett had actually taken and Mr French suspected the amount might be a great deal more.

Rhian Jackson, prosecuting, said Mrs Hughes began counting the money left in the drawer about three years ago after she started noticing amounts were going missing.

At the time she was not sure whether it was her husband Brian who had been using the money, or whether she had counted it wrongly.

But on May 23 Garnett turned up to clean the house as normal, not knowing that Mr Hughes had put £40 in the drawer that morning.

That evening Mr Hughes asked his wife if she had taken any because there was only £30 left but she has not touched it and no-one other than Garnett had been in the house.

On June 5 Mr and Mrs Hughes both counted £50 in the drawer and they double checked it the next morning before Garnett arrived.

Mrs Hughes went out and when she returned there was only £30 left in the drawer.

Police were informed and Garnett said she was sorry for her actions but could not explain why she had done it because it was not the case that she needed the money.

She also admitted taking £20 from Mrs Hughes’ son, Daniel, while cleaning his property.

Garnett was totally ashamed and told police she had taken money every two or three weeks, £10 or £20 at a time.

She could not remember the first time she did it.

Mrs Hughes appeared in court to read a victim impact statement in person.

She said: “I am left with a sense of such unbearable nausea and betrayal.

“I had not wanted to believe it but my friend Joy, who had shown friendship and affection, was the culprit. I am still struggling daily with the effects. I feel I have lost confidence in some ways and my judgment of people is not as acute as before.

“Having known Joy Garnett for a number of years and cultivated what appeared to be a deep and trusting friendship, it is difficult to put into words the distress this has caused.”

Emma Simoes, defending, said Garnett was of previous good character but she had to accept it was a very unpleasant matter with a high degree of breach of trust.

Garnett was deeply ashamed of what she had done.

She was of a nervous disposition and had found the whole experience extremely sobering.

But Mr French said Garnett had caused incalcuable damage to Mrs Hughes’ emotional wellbeing.

He said: “If you allow someone into your home and treat them as a family member, to breach that trust is despicable.

“I have got absolutely no doubt whatsoever Mrs Hughes has found your betrayal of her absolutely devastating.

“I regard your behaviour as absolutely despicable and as far as I am concerned, this is the minimum sentence I could have imposed on you.”

Mr French also ordered Garnett to pay £260 in compensation to Mrs Hughes, as well as £20 to her son.

Costs of £85 and a £115 victim surcharge were also imposed.