A CARE worker was sentenced for theft and false accounting after stealing thousands while volunteering for a sports organisation.

Julie Brown, 42, of Slade Road, Ryde, stole £3,530 from the National Passenger Transport Sports Association while she was acting secretary for an indoor games competition.

Brown, who works as the deputy manager for the Union Street-based Everycare Agency and looks after 85 vulnerable adults, was convicted following a not guilty plea on December 19 at the Isle of Wight Crown Court.

Today, the crown court heard Brown maintained her claims of innocence but accepted the jury's verdict, although she complained suspicious cheques and a laptop stolen from her car were not produced as evidence during her trial.

Prosecuting, Alex Kettle-Williams explained Brown had previous form for theft, as she had stolen scratch cards from a corner shop she worked at in 2001.

For Brown, Paul Fairley, explained his client had significant debts, including more than £5,000 owed in legal aid, and money owed to the Department for Work and Pensions for an overpayment in housing benefit and other benefits.

He added if a suspended sentence was handed down, then his client would be demoted at work, see a reduction in pay, but would not lose her job.

A statement from her employer read in court described Brown as: "The most loyal and trustworthy employee she's ever come across."

Mr Fairley asked the judge: "I wonder if your honour might be persuaded to give a community order given that her role would change and she would earn less money?"

Sentencing, Recorder Rufus Taylor, said Brown had shown no remorse in standing by her plea, and she acted dishonestly while filing accounts of the association.

He added Brown had no experience in book keeping and in 2014, for the first year, filed the accounts properly, but noticed a flaw in the system and exploited it.

"She is dishonest. She steals. She is now in a position of trust with vulnerable adults," said the judge addressing Mr Fairley.

"This case clearly crosses the threshold for a custodial sentence and to impose a community order would be artificial."

Brown was sentenced to eight months in custody suspended for 18 months.

She was not ordered to pay any compensation or costs given her substantial debts.

"If you are tempted to steal, please do not. As the next time you are here it will be a custodial sentence," concluded Recorder Taylor.