A WOMAN who stole almost £300,000 from her employers to satisfy a “psychological compulsion” to shop has been jailed for two years.

Nicola Saxelby, who bought thousands of pounds worth of goods she never even took out of the box, worked for the Hawkins family in Withington for 16 years.

From 2005 to 2011, the 49-year-old pocketed thousands of pounds from the farming family, taking cash and duping them into signing cheques made out to her.

At Hereford Crown Court yesterday (Monday), Judge Toby Hooper QC heard how Saxelby spent the money on goods from Joules, Barbour, Marks & Spencer, and Principles.

When police searched her Herefordshire home they found “dozens and dozens boxes” of unopened shopping.

“There were rooms full of boxes piled high,” said Andrew Wallace, prosecuting.

“There was thousands of pounds worth of goods that had never seen the outside of the box”.

Saxleby was “completely oblivious” to the harm she caused, even as the Hawkins family sold off their dairy farm and herd to stem spiralling debt.

“This was endemic," said Mr Wallace.

"There was a lot of planning.”

Andrew Weston, defending, said Saxleby did not steal to fund a lavish lifestyle, but to satisfy a compulsion.

“The psychological report goes some way to explain what can only be described as an extraordinary extent of shopping she engaged in.

“She was buying things she had no intention of using or wearing.

“The motivation was this compulsion to go and shop and that’s really why she was stealing.”

Judge Hooper jailed Saxleby for a total of two years.

She had pleaded guilty to theft, fraud and false accounting on the basis she stole £289,777.