The manager of the Co-op in Bovingdon stole more than £33,000 from the store.

Jacqueline Lloyd, 50, of Marlins Turn, Hemel Hempstead, was responsible for the weekly banking and used her knowledge of the system to steal the money over a 20 month period.

St Albans Crown Court heard on Friday that Lloyd began stealing the money when faced with massive debts.

She would pay the money from the store into the bank as she was supposed to do, but then unknown to her bosses would arrange for the money to go back.

Her offending was discovered when Co-op investigators looking through accounting records, noticed that "more and more money" appeared to be being held in the store's safe.

The offence covered a period from September 2009 up until May 2011 and Lloyd pleaded guilty to one charge of theft.

Isabel Delamere prosecuting, said it had been calculated that Lloyd stole £33,240 over many months.

Lloyd was immediately suspended and was arrested in May of last year.

After claiming anyone at the store could have taken the money, Lloyd eventually admitted her guilt and it emerged she was in masses of debt following the breakup of her marriage.

Rob Ward defending, said Lloyd's offending was a serious breach of trust.

He said she had worked for Co op for 15 years and worked her way up the ladder to become a store manager.

Judge Martin Griffith sentenced Lloyd to 16 months jail suspended for 12 months and placed her on supervision for a year.

She was also ordered to perform 125 hours of unpaid work.

Investigations are to be carried out into a pension fund of £30,000 Lloyd built up during her time with the Co op to see if it can be used to pay compensation to the company.