Melane Beever, 51, of Rawmarsh, worked at Greenside Vets for almost 30 years before she began to take money from the firm between August 2012 and July 2016.
Financial investigators who contacted the Chronicle following a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing last Tuesday said they hoped the order for Beever to return a total of £23,393.57 within three months - or face jail - served as ‘closure’ for the victims whose trust was abused.
Senior financial investigator Richard Grant, from the Barnsley POCA team, said of the decision by Judge Graham Reeds: “South Yorkshire Police are committed to pursuing the confiscation of criminals’ assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
“It is just, and pleasing, that any monies recovered in this particular case are rightly returned to the victim as compensation.
“We hope that this affords the victim some form of closure, and that it goes some way to appeasing the suffering this theft, from a long-standing employee in a position of trust, has undoubtedly caused.”
Beever was convicted in June after a nine-day trial at Sheffield Crown Court, and was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years.
She was also handed a 21-month sentence which was suspended for two years, a nine-month curfew and an order to be electronically tagged.
Beever has been given three months by the court in which to pay the monies back, or face a 12-month default sentence of imprisonment.
Veterinary surgeon Simon Newbery said: “It’s a relief but it’s not about the money it’s been a very stressful six years.
“She worked with us for 29 years and we treated her as a family friend and to find someone so dishonest it was just such a shock to us.
“She went to great lengths to hide what she was doing over a long period of time.
“She didn’t show any remorse to me or to my family.
“She had a position of trust and that’s the worst thing because we employed her straight out of school.
“We couldn’t believe it at first but once we started investigating I was in shock.
“If the court hadn’t awarded this then it would almost be as if she got away with it I hope she will show some remorse but I don’t think she will.
“There’s been lots of sleepless night but we feel like this is closure for us.”