A book-keeper at an engineering firm helped herself to more than £43,000 – originally because her son was in debt.
And it was only when managing director Paul Ferguson started to examine the books that he realised Susan McCrae had been stealing from his business.
McCrae, 62, of Moorside Walk, Orrell, will now face a crown court judge over the thefts from Mr Ferguson’s Skelmersdale-based business, Williams Engineering.
Prosecutor Katie Beattie said Mr Ferguson had taken over the engineering firm, where McCrae had worked for 16 years, in around 2012.
She was responsible for the payroll functions at the company, the court was told.
But Miss Beattie said that Mr Ferguson had only decided to finally go through the accounts just before last Christmas, where he found a number of discrepancies.
She told magistrates: “He sat down and realised that there were several payments which had been made from the firm directly into Mrs McCrae’s account.”
The book-keeper was arrested shortly afterwards by police, after it emerged that there was missing money identified dating from August 2012 to December 2016.
Interviewed later by officers, she admitted that she had been stealing from the company for some time, but she had not realised that the sums involved amounted to £43,343.
Miss Beattie said McCrae told police that she had started stealing after her son had accumulated a “lot of debt” and people had been visiting their family home, demanding money.
She admitted to officers that the situation had “gotten out of control” though, the court heard.
In a statement, Mr Ferguson said: “She was trusted with the banking and had been paying herself out of our accounts.
“It’s disappointing because she knows how hard we all work.”
Miss Beattie added: “This was a breach of trust and the offence has been committed over a long period of time.”
McCrae, who pleaded guilty to theft, was committed on bail for sentence to Preston Crown Court.
The case was adjourned until February 28 and pre-sentence reports were also ordered.