Evelyn Gore-Strachan, 42, today began her 12-year sentence after she stole money from the two jobs, despite earning a six-figure sum.
She siphoned more than £800,000 out of the accounts of the first company, before jumping ship when she learned she was being made redundant and stealing a further £1 million from the second.
Incredibly she started defrauding the second company within weeks of starting work – in a bid to pay back the money she had stolen from the first firm.
And it emerged on Friday afternoon that Gore-Strachan had secured the trusted positions by failing to tell either firm that she had previously been jailed – having conned a dental company where she worked out of money a staggering 33 times.
Gore-Strachan managed to get a pay rise to £132,000-a-year from the second firm she worked for after convincing them she was doing a good job for them – when in reality they later had to make workers redundant because they had been left significantly out of pocket by her offending.
The Zimbabwean national, who owns a five bedroomed house, was sent back to prison and barred from being a company director for the next 15 years by a judge who described her actions as being “about as bad a case as there could be.”
Gore-Strachan used a total of 35 accounts to hide her ill-gotten gains, setting up bogus accounts for firms with similar-sounding names to those that she worked for in a bid to avoid detection.
Other accounts were created for completely fictitious companies, many of which had her as the sole director, a court heard.
On one occasion when suspicious colleagues phoned a number on an invoice to query it, Gore-Strachan answered the phone but disguised her voice.
Prosecutor Michael Roques told Reading crown court that between 2008 and 2012, the 42-year-old managed to steal a total of £809,776 from Webtech Wireless, a Vancouver-based software firm that had an office in Reading, Berks.
She earned an annual salary of £44,000 in this post, which included bookkeeping and filing the company’s tax and employee PAYE returns.
In spring 2012 the firm announced it was to close its Reading office and Gore-Strachan would be among the employees to be made redundant.
It wasn’t until the following year that the company discovered a number of problems with legitimate commission payments to another firm, Globetec, which had been authorised by Gore-Strachan.
“It became apparent the commission payments meant to be paid to Globetec had been paid into a UK Abbey National bank account,” Mr Roques told the court.
An investigation showed that the money was being paid into the account of Pro Clean Services UK Ltd, Mr Roques said.
It also emerged that a request to change bank account details was made using a bogus email address that was similar to those used by Globetec.
Mr Roques told the court: “It diverted payments to a Barclays account with the name Globetex Ltd. The defendant, it was established, was the director of Globetex, no doubt set up to mimic Globetec in order to further the fraud.”
Two full-scale investigations were launched and it emerged that Gore-Strachan had pocketed more than £800,000 from Webtech Wireless.
The company recovered the losses through its insurers and Gore-Strachan made an arrangement with the insurance firm that she would repay £300,000.
She made a lump sum payment of £260,000 – which, Mr Roques said, she had obtained by falsifying authorisation from a colleague at the second firm she ended up defrauding, Britannia Pharmaceuticals.
Whilst working there she twice transferred out more than £200,000 into bank accounts she set up with names similar to a Japanese firm linked to Britannia, the court was told.
In total she stole £1,000,614 from them – leading to the confidence in the company and its share price to fall, resulting in staff being laid off or having bonus payments withheld
That was despite Gore-Strachan “using her charm” to negotiate an increased bonus from 15 per cent to 25 per cent, in line with other bosses at the firm, and a pay rise from £112,000 to £132,000, Mr Roques told the court.
A complex police investigation led to Gore-Strachan eventually being charged with nine counts of fraud.
Mr Roques added that Gore-Strachan had worked for a third firm, Par XL, in between her employment at Webtech Wireless and Britannia Pharmaceuticals.
She has admitted defrauding money out of them as well, but the company is not chasing a prosecution as they believe any money they recoup will be outweighed by the cost of the investigation, Mr Roques told the judge sitting at Reading Crown Court.
Mike Phillips, defending, said his client had been married for more than 20 years and had two daughters, the eldest of whom attended Imperial College.
He said: “They are absolutely disgusted with their mother’s behaviour.
“She pretends to be these people [a mother and wife], a fairy godmother, yet destroys people’s lives. She is a hypocrite, with a capital H.”
Mr Phillips told the court that in her resignation letter to Britannia Pharmaceuticals, Gore-Strachan said: “I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the recent events. I am totally repulsed by my actions. I don’t recognise who I am anymore. I know I will have to recognise the full extent of my actions.”
He added that Gore-Strachan had been jailed for 18 months in 2003 after admitting 33 counts of fraud, having stolen around £300,000 from a dental company.
She failed to declare this when she applied for work at Webtech Wireless and Mr Phillips conceded she would not have been given the job if she had mentioned it.
Gore-Strachan, of Monarch Drive, Shinfield, Berks., admitted nine counts of fraud at an earlier court hearing.
She stared at the ground and showed no emotion as she listened to the details of her offending from the dock.
Passing sentence Mr Recorder Martin Heslop QC said: “I have no hesitation in saying this was an extremely serious case.
“The defendant’s conduct in committing these offences – and the aggravating factors, including the impact on the victim companies and her previous convictions – make this, in my judgement, about as bad a case as there could be.
“In a position of trust, acting as a qualified accountant earning extremely good money, she used her position to obtain dishonestly from two companies.
“The fraud involved dishonestly diverting funds to accounts over which she had control. It was sophisticated, it was sustained – in each case over a number of years.
“It involved significant planning, it involved falsified documents, it involved making double payments, it involved making false statements, producing false invoices.
“It involved doctoring documents. It involved you using companies whose names were designed to mislead, to avoid detection. It involved the use of 35 different accounts of one form or another.
“Your involvement changed the employment contracts of employees, to their detriment, and at one stage faking your own voice to put off inquiries.
“It is quite clear there has been a seriously detrimental effect to both of the victim companies, including substantial damage to credit ratings and their prospects for further growth.”
Mr Recorder Heslop jailed Gore-Strachan for six years on each of the four counts relating to the frauds from Webtech Wireless, which will be served concurrently to each other.
She was handed an additional six year sentence for each of the five counts relating to Britannia Pharmaceutical, which will be served concurrently to each other but consecutively to the Webtech fraud – meaning she will serve a total of 12 years in prison.
The Recorder also disqualified Gore-Strachan from being a company director for 15 years – the maximum period allowed.
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, to determine how much Gore-Strachan needs to pay back, will take place at a later date. The Mirror (UK)