A Westbury husband and wife have been handed jail sentences totalling nearly five and a half years for fraud and acquiring criminal property after being involved in a £360,000 scam against the wife’s employers.

Gail Gardiner, 47, of Shire Way, Westbury, a £40,000-a-year manager at Maidstone-based Hanson Aggregates, was jailed for three years and four months by a judge at Maidstone Crown Court.

She pleaded guilty to fraud in which she had paid £359,056 belonging to the company, into a bank account held by her husband between April 2010 and December last year.

Her husband, Richard Gardiner, also 47, of Lilac Grove, Westbury, who pleaded guilty to acquiring criminal property - £359,056 – between the same dates was jailed for two years.

When the couple pleaded guilty in November last year they were both warned to expect jail but were granted bail under tagged curfews until yesterday.

Judge Philip Statman adjourned sentencing until after Christmas in order for the couple, who have teenage children, to put their personal affairs in order.

Jailing them yesterday, he was told that they had a joint income of around £60,000 a year and said: “That in the current climate is no mean income.”

He added: “There has been a gross breach of trust. This is a sophisticated fraud. The amount of money is very substantial indeed.”

Prosecutor Sarah Lindop had told the court that Gail Gardiner, a mother of two, who had worked for Hanson for 15 years, was in a position of trust and responsibility and although her main home was in Westbury she had lived in Maidstone.

Miss Lindop said Gardiner had opened an account in her husband’s name in October 2010 and money was paid into it for fictitious work carried out for Hanson, which supplies construction materials.

She said a total of £359,056 was taken and a further £27,000 was in the process of being taken when it as stopped as a result of an internal investigation.

She added that the scam had caused the Hanson “extreme difficulty” and that it was estimated that the money taken by the Gardiners represented 10 per cent of their UK profit in a year.