A Radlett beauty salon manager who stole nearly £5,000 from her employers by giving refunds to a fictitious character called Liz Taylor has avoided jail.

Jonelle Roberts, who worked at Yvonne James Beauty Clinic, in Watling Street, would pretend to be the bogus client over email during the time she worked at the salon between February and May 2012.

Roberts was caught when she signed off one of the emails to the salon owner’s daughter with her own name.

Appearing at St Albans Crown Court on Monday, Roberts was given a five-month prison sentence which was suspended for five years and she was ordered to pay costs of £750.

During an earlier appearance, in which Roberts admitted theft from employer, the court heard that her ruse was finally discovered when her employers became suspicious after she transferred more than £4,000 to herself in one go.

When the salon’s owners realised what Roberts was doing, they tried to arrange to meet her to discuss the transfers. However, Roberts pretended she had broken her ankle.

Roberts, of Garsmouth Way, on the Meriden Estate, then told salon owner, Yvonne Rowson, that she could not meet her because she was going to America on holiday for six weeks, an earlier court case heard.

It later emerged that Roberts was intending to go to the United States for three months and was not planning to return to work.

Roberts created a false email address for Liz Taylor which she would use to converse with staff.

It was in one of these emails that Roberts slipped up and accidentally signed off one of the Liz Taylor emails as "Jonelle".

The court heard how the emails sent by "Liz Taylor" came from IP addresses associated with Roberts’ home or the clinic itself.

The scam was discovered when Roberts transferred more than £4,000 to herself on May 22.

She initially claimed she had transferred the substantial sum by mistake after becoming confused as she had been using her credit card for online shopping that day.

It was later discovered that she had transferred about £4,800 to her account in total.

When police searched her Garston home, a number of beauty products and a UV lamp were recovered, totalling nearly £200.

At an earlier court appearance, prosecutor, Alan Richards, said: "Miss Roberts was not an ordinary employee.

"She had management responsibilities so enhanced the degree of trust in her and therefore aggravates the seriousness of this case.

"The defendant showed some level of persistence and a degree of sophistication."

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