A WOMAN working in a position of trust for a building contractor systematically stole more than £18,000, a court has heard.

Blackburn Magistrates' Court was told how Catherine Wiggins set up a bogus bank account and regularly paid money into it which she then pocketed between 2017 and 2019.

Wiggins, 35, of Lincoln Court, Church, pleaded guilty to theft by employee of £18,852 belonging to Alan Duffy.

She was committed on bail to Burnley Crown Court to be sentenced, after the magistrates ruled their sentencing powers were inadequate due to the seriousness of the offending.

Graeme Tindall, prosecuting, said Wiggins had worked for Mr Duffy for 12 years and he had always been "delighted" with her work.

"The degree of trust he placed in her increased and she was given access to the finances and accounts and authorised to make payments," said Mr Tindall.

"Mr Duffy noticed some discrepancies but couldn't track them down and installed CCTV to try and keep an eye on things."

Wiggins was away on holiday when Mr Duffy took a close look at the accounts and discovered payments to a company called Dragon Build which he had never heard of.

He contacted the bank and discovered the Dragon Build account had been opened by Wiggins.

There had been a number of payments to the account which she had then accessed.

Jonathan Taylor, mitigating, said his client was extremely remorseful.

"The second it was detected she made a full admission and apologised," said Mr Taylor.

"She started making repayments and so far has repaid £1,700. She intends to carry on until she repays the full amount."

He said the offence had been committed against the backdrop of a very abusive relationship.

"Her partner at the time was facing alcohol problems and that was placing a great deal of pressure on the family," said Mr Taylor.

"He was spending the money and she was struggling to make ends meet."

He said there was no suggestion of Wiggins stealing to fund a lavish lifestyle.

"She knows she has let Mr Duffy and herself down very badly," said Mr Taylor.

Wiggins will be sentenced at a later date.