A YOUNG bank worker has been jailed after stealing almost £17,000 from a Droitwich bank in a "calculated" two-year scam.

Catherine Finney, aged 25, would regularly steal small amounts from the till she was responsible for at the town's Barclays branch. She covered up her thefts by carrying out more than 100 "inter-till transfers", making the missing money more difficult to spot.

The court heard she even used the bank accounts of two elderly savers to launder some of her stolen haul, which totalled £16,980 between January 2011 and March last year.

Finney, of Stalls Farm Road, Droitwich, was sentenced to 18 months behind bars at Worcester Crown Court on Monday after admitting to one count of theft and two of fraud.

Judge Michael Cullum said she had been in a position of very high trust at the bank, which she had systematically breached to pay for an extravagant lifestyle.

"On almost a daily basis, you would take small amounts of money over a two-year period from the till at which you were the sole worker," he said.

"You made, in total, 108 inter-till transfers which enabled the period over which you stole money to be as long as it was.

"Anyone working in the banking industry is, by definition, in a high position of trust. The calculated nature of deceptions, the efforts you made in masking it, and the number of occasions you took money are all aggravating factors.

"You took the money for your own living standards, which may not have been as lavish as some, but it was certainly beyond that which you would have legitimately been able to afford. It was simply to advance your lifestyle."

He sentenced her to 18 months in prison, concurrent on each charge. The two elderly customers made no actual loss due to the fraud, the court heard, and Finney passed off the queries over mystery transactions on their statement as "banking errors".

She also replaced their postal statements with e-mail statements.

Defending, Paul Stanley told the court Finney was in debt and had started to see a new partner, and wanted to be able to go out socialising with him.

He added that she was "very remorseful" about what had happened, which was why she had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity when she first appeared before magistrates.

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will be held on April 1 to determine what she will have to pay back.