A CUSTOMER services advisor who stole nearly £28,000 from her employer Yorkshire Water to fund her cannabis addiction has been spared jail.

Saphera Khan, 29, embezzled the money between March 2014 and March this year by creating credit refunds on closed customer accounts.

A total of £27,642 in refunds was paid into four accounts in her and her partner’s name, with her offending only coming to light when a customer queried the direct debit details on an old account.

Yorkshire Water raised the matter to the authorities, and Khan voluntarily went to police and admitted her offending.

Bradford Crown Court heard that Khan had accessed 65 accounts in total, making 66 transactions, each involving making a false credit.

She had pleaded guilty to four charges of theft by employee prior to yesterday’s court hearing.

She was said to have told police she had been suffering from stress, and had used the money to pay off her drug debts, which at times amounted to between £300 and £500 a week.

Stephen Wood, mitigating, said his client, of White’s View, Bradford, had shown genuine remorse for her “unsophisticated” offending, the “root cause” of which had been her drug addiction.

He said she was now drug-free and accessing recovery services.

Judge Colin Burn said Khan presented a low-risk of future offending if she conquered her “absolutely horrendous” cannabis habit.

He told her: “The fact is this was sustained dishonesty by you over a period of three years.

“It wasn’t to sustain a luxurious lifestyle, it was to sustain an addiction to cannabis.

“You are not someone who readily fits the category of a mean fraudster.”

Khan was jailed for ten months, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete a 30-day rehabilitation requirement.