A SUPERMARKET worker was jailed after admitting stealing more than £15,000 from Asda over a three-month period.

Mother-of-four Michelle Hargreaves was a section leader at the store in St Helens Road, Daubhill, when she committed 18 separate fraudulent transactions using Pay Point and National Lottery machines.

Hargreaves repeatedly lied about the amounts customers were paying for their utility bills as well as amounts being claimed for lottery winnings, pocketing the excess cash from the till.

Bolton Crown Court heard the crimes took place between December 17, 2012, and March 15, 2013.

The total amount stolen was £15,500.

The court was told it was not the first time Hargreaves had been guilty of theft from an employer, with several convictions dating as far back as the 1980s.

David James, defending, said Hargreaves had been unaware how much money she had taken and that she had found herself in “extremely difficult financial circumstances”.

“She was living a hand-to-mouth existence and the money was not used for luxury but for the necessities of getting through the week.”

Hargreaves, aged 48, of Booth Road, Little Lever, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.

Judge Peter Davies, sentencing her to 12 months in prison, said: “You were trusted by Asda and were charged with handling money.

"People would come in to pay their utility bills and you would mis-state what they had paid and pocket the rest.

“They would come to collect their lottery winnings, you would mis-state what they had won and pocket the rest.

“You did this on no less that 18 occasions, so this was therefore not an isolated incident.

“These were deliberate and persistent thefts from your employer.”