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A woman's offer of reparations for her theft of nearly $300,000 from her employer has not been enough to keep her out of jail.

Crown prosecutor Kathy Basire described Bernadine Claire Warren's repayment efforts as "too little, too late" at the sentencing before Christchurch District Court Judge David Holderness today.

It was the second time she had admitted substantial thefts from employers. In 1996 she received a suspended prison term, periodic detention, supervision, and a reparation order after being convicted of thefts involving about $60,000.

She was ordered to pay reparation for that offending and completed the payments about a year before the new bout of thefts began. The latest thefts, for which she admitted five charges, went on from 2006 to 2009.

Today, the 37-year-old woman who worked as an office accounts administrator for a Christchurch firm has begun a two year six month jail term and has been ordered to pay back $90,000 to the company.

She has been making repayments of $500 a month, but until now the payments have been going to the company's insurers. She is also selling her house, in which she has equity of about $70,000, to put that money toward reparations.

Defence counsel Margaret Smyth urged the judge to impose a sentence of home detention which would allow Warren to continue her reparation payments and to continue with the psychological counselling sessions she was also paying for.

A jail term would mean no more reparation payments from Warren, who now runs her own business, and it would also end the rehabilitation efforts she was making.

Judge Holderness said the offending was "entirely premeditated and relatively sophisticated", leading to her taking $298,537 from the company.

The loss had a significant impact on the company and led to a redundancy and cutbacks, and no staff salary increases or bonuses.

"The effects of your dishonesty on the company and its chief executive officer and employees - your former workmates - make very sad reading," the judge told Warren.

He increased the sentence because of her previous dishonesty and said he did not consider the proposed reparation was enough to warrant any reduction to a two-year level where a sentence of home detention could be considered.