A “trusted” receptionist stole £40,000 of shampoos, joint supplements, tick removers and toothpastes from the veterinary surgery where she worked and sold them on eBay.

Rebecca Evans-Dean took the items – all non-prescription medicine products – over an 18-month period while employed at Wrekin View Veterinary Practice in Wellington, Telford, Shropshire.

Shrewsbury Crown Court heard her actions had had a “profound effect” on the business – a three-vet companion animal practice.

Evans-Dean, 31, was given a 10-month sentence suspended for two years after she admitted a charge of theft between March 2013 and August last year.

Judge Peter Barrie told her she had taken the opportunity to steal from her employer, having exaggerated the financial panic facing her family with a child on the way.

He said it was not something that happened once as a result of her anxiety over her own health and her pregnancy.

“It was many, many times on a small scale, but the amount involved had a profound impact on the business,” Judge Barrie said.

He said it was “repeated and sustained conduct” over time during her employment at the practice. In addition to her suspended sentence,

Evans-Dean, of Parklands, Wellington, Shropshire, was placed on supervision for a year and told to complete 80 hours’ unpaid work. She will also have to attend a specified activity programme offering therapy and skills training, which was a direct alternative to custody.

The court heard the defendant, who now has an eight-month-old son, had indicated a determination to repay all the money.

David Swinnerton, for Evans-Dean, said she was of previous good character and was “deeply ashamed and distraught”. He said she wanted to repay “every penny” and had saved £1,700 in maternity payments and might have to sell the family home.

Vet Rob Wilson, owner of Wrekin View Veterinary Practice, emphasised that no POM-V products were taken by Evans-Dean and issued a brief statement after the court hearing.

“My staff and I have been very upset by the events that led to the conviction of Rebecca, who was a long-standing and trusted member of staff,” he said.

“We are a small team and as such, everybody has felt the effects of her actions. I would like to thank all my staff for the support they have shown the surgery in recent months and look forward to putting this behind us and getting back to focusing on what we do best – looking after our clients and their pets.”

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