A 45-year-old Shropshire subpostmistress who admitted concealing the theft of more than £40,000 from a county post office has been jailed for 12 months.
Rubbina Shaheen, of Wood Street, Shrewsbury, would have faced longer in prison had it not been for the "exceptional" references received from the local community, Shrewsbury Crown Court heard yesterday.
Shaheen previously admitted, on the day of a planned trial, fraud between February 1, 2008, and September 3, 2009.
She dishonestly made false representations on a Horizon final balances account for Greenfields Post Office, namely that the amount of cash in hand was greater than the true figure.
Mr Jonathan Woodcock, for Shaheen, said she admitted the charge on the basis "she was aware monies had been abstracted and proceeded to conceal those facts" but he said "she did not steal those monies".
Judge Robin Onions told Shaheen and members of the community of Greenfields, who had turned out to support her, that they must understand her crime was one of dishonesty while she was in a position of trust.
Mr John Oates, prosecuting, said: "Rubbina Shaheen was appointed to be the sub-postmistress at Greenfields Post Office in Shrewsbury on August 24, 2006.
"On September 3, 2009, a Post Office auditor went to the premises to carry out an investigation and audit of the accounts. She did a preliminary investigation and from that believed there was a shortage of money.
"She then carried out a full check in the presence of the defendant and immediately found there was a very substantial shortage and asked Mrs Shaheen for an explanation.
"The defendant said straight away she had been covering up a shortage of cash but said the reason for it was that there was something wrong with the Post Office computer.
"The total missing was £43,269.10."
Mr Woodcock said: "Good people sometimes make mistakes."
But Judge Onions told Shaheen: "You knew that money was going missing and you did nothing about it. You dishonestly concealed what was going on.
"We are still no wiser as to where this money has gone."
By Rhea Alton