A charity treasurer stole £218,000 and spent some of it on luxury cruises, a court has heard.
Marilyn Stadius gave up her time to work for an organisation which looks after those who have fallen on hard times.
She was married to a successful accountant but when he became seriously ill and struggled to work, she began stealing to maintain their comfortable lifestyle.
For 11 years she got away with the scam before an audit revealed she had stolen £218,250 from Newstraid, which looks after those involved in newspaper and magazine distribution.
Newcastle Crown Court heard Stadius would spend £4,000 a year of the money on an annual luxury cruise.
Now the 61-year-old, who has never been in trouble before, has been jailed for two years after admitting theft.
Judge Brian Forster QC told her: “A large part of the money you took was spent on what ordinary members of the public would describe as luxury items, such as annual cruises.
“Having become involved in stealing money you were unable to resist the temptation and you went on and on taking the money. Clearly this has had a devastating effect on the benevolent fund.”
The court heard Newstraid helped raise funds by running a lottery for newsagents, with a monthly draw and cash prizes.
Stadius had been involved with the charity since 1994 and ended up becoming treasurer. That job involved her paying out the monthly lottery prizes and she was given signed blank cheques for that purpose.
But she started paying cheques into her own account in 2001 and didn’t stop until she was caught last year. When she was arrested she told police: “My husband was in poor health and I had no more money coming in. It’s a really poor excuse. It’s indescribable but that’s what I did.”
Stadius, of Dorset Avenue, Birtley, Gateshead, pleaded guilty to theft and was jailed for two years.
The court heard she is now penniless and despite making £218,250 from the offence, she must pay back just a nominal £1 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Tom Moran, defending, said Stadius is extremely remorseful about what she did but accepted she had to go to prison.
Mr Moran said: “She will be the first to say she deserves nothing else. She says she despises herself for what she has done.”