THE former best friend of a serial fraudster has spoken out about the ‘total betrayal’ she experienced at the hands of her ex-employee.

Back in January June Watson, a financial advisor, was found guilty of stealing over £225,000 from ABN Financial Ltd and ABN Property Partnerships - a company owned by her boss and friend Yvonne Cannings.

The 50-year-old scam artist, who was ordered to pay back £23,000 of the cash on Monday, had used the money to buy luxury handbags and jewellery, which were discovered by police after she was foiled following checks of the company accounts.

And now, Mrs Cannings, who has lived through the ordeal of her former friend’s trial and proceeds of crime hearing over the last twelve months, has spoken out the experience.

Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, Mrs Cannings said: “I’ve been betrayed, cheated and lied to by a woman I trusted and sat next to every day for five years.

“Regardless of the criminal justice system and the sentences that have been issued, nothing will ever make up for the betrayal that I have felt at the hands of this woman.

“She has caused so much pain and suffering to so many people – the business, me, her friends and family – there is no amount of money that can make up for what she did.”

Victim Mrs Cannings went on to say that she had treated Watson like a member of her family before her scheming was revealed after the company’s bank manager became concerned about ‘significantly and persistently overdrawn’ accounts.

She said: “If she was in need, all she ever had to do was ask. She was a friend and an employee, we would have done whatever we could have if she needed help.

“But she didn’t, and once she was court she tried to drag me down with her by claiming I had been involved.

“It is not about the money – I never expected to see a penny of it back.

“I just want to see justice served to this woman, who caused so many people so much suffering.”

Watson was jailed in January for four-and-half years after a jury found her guilty of two counts of theft.

On Monday, Judge Andrew Jefferies QC ordered her to pay £23,000 during a proceeds of crime hearing or face another 12-month in prison.