A WOMAN employee who swindled the giant Airbus company of nearly £132,000 in an expenses fraud has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Judge Rhys Rowlands told Carena Jane Land, 54, at Mold Crown Court : “It’s an extremely serious matter, both for the amount involved and the length of time in which you behaved in what was a thoroughly dishonest fashion.”

She pleaded guilty to fraud by an abuse of her position at the Airbus plant at Broughton between 2012 and 2016, relating to expenses for teams of engineers sent to carry out aircraft repairs.

David Mainstone, prosecuting, said Land, of Eyton Grove, Eyton, Wrexham, an assistant and company secretary within customer support, had paid expenses with her company credit card and would then submit duplicate claims.

“She was in a unique position of trust,” he said. A total of 59 such transactions had been discovered.

She was dismissed in June 2015 after the company carried out an investigation, then police discovered more duplications.

She had blamed cash problems after the breakdown of her marriage and her husband losing his job.

Mr Mainstone said: “She realised quickly she could obtain extra money easily. She said her intention was to pay the money back and she was only doing it to get out of a hole.

“She said she was shocked when told the total cash she had claimed by fraud.”

However there were holidays, hotel stays and luxury items bought and she told police she lived beyond her means “to make herself feel better”.

According to the company, £11,500 was spent on getting external experts to probe what had happened.

While the amount did not have a significant impact on Airbus’s overall finances it was at odds with the company’s standards, Airbus said.

She had been in a position of trust managing travel expenses for many employees.

Defence barrister Paulinus Barnes said Land was remorseful and had been thought of highly, both professionally and personally.

She had health problems including a history of depression and he asked the judge to consider a suspended sentence.

She had been in debt but Judge Rowlands said she had taken holidays abroad and others had wondered how she could afford that lifestyle on £27,500 a year.

Passing sentence the judge said there had been a background of marital failure but she had also taken expensive holidays and made luxury purchases.

“Despite your age and ill-health the offence is so serious only an immediate custodial sentence can be justified,” said Judge Rowlands.

An Airbus spokesman said after the sentencing hearing: “While the impact of the crime committed by Carena Land on the company may not have been significant to its overall financial performance, this was a large sum of money obtained fraudulently from the company by actions which are completely at odds with the behaviours we expect from our employees.