A THIEVING accounts administrator, whose activities almost brought the company employing her to its knees, is to pay back £21,923.

Sarah Baldwin was dubbed “the smiling assassin” by her boss at Ava-Alms valve makers, of Ripon, North Yorkshire, for the, “breath-taking scale of her deceit”.

She was said to have stolen almost £70,000 over ten months overseeing accounts for the engineering firm, going on spending sprees using the company’s credit card, buying a car and paying nursery fees.

Baldwin also paid 18 cheques into her own account, money which was supposed to be used to pay company bills.

But she called in sick when the company appointed an accountant in May 2012, fearing her thieving would be uncovered.

It was only because manager Steve Berry agreed to pay £8,500 of his own money and sold some of his shareholding to cover for Baldwin’s thefts, that enabled the fledgling company to survive.

The 34-year-old mother-of-three, of Hambleton Place, Thirsk, was jailed for a total of three years and eight months at Teesside Crown Court last December.

Twenty months of that sentence was for four counts of fraud she admitted from Ava-Alms.

The remaining two years of the sentence was imposed by Judge Howard Crowson for child cruelty, involving frequent beatings given to a 15-year-old girl.

Baldwin denied the offence, claiming the allegations were “scurrilous”, made by people jealous of her seemingly comfortable lifestyle.

But a jury found her guilty following a trial at the court in November.

Four months after being sentenced, Baldwin was subject of a Proceeds of Crime application at Durham Crown Court.

Appearing via video link from Low Newton Women’s Prison, on the outskirts of Durham, she agreed to a prosecution confiscation request for £21,923.

Graeme Gaston, for the Crown, said the agreed benefit figure for her activities was £69,547, of which the £21,923 was available through her “realisable assets”.

This is made up from the contents of two building society accounts, the sale of a Ford Focus car, and the balance on her Christmas saving club account.

Judge Peter Kelson made the confiscation order, which must be passed on to Ava-Alms within six months, at risk of a further 15 months in prison, in default of payment.