A BID to claw back nearly £6,000 of public money stolen by a former parish clerk will be heard in court - but taxpayers will have to wait five months.

Jane Haggar, 49, of Malthouse Lane, Ramsey was handed a 12-month prison sentence by Judge Moloney at Huntingdon Crown Court on Thursday, after she pleaded guilty to using faked invoices and altered cheques to steal the money from parish council funds.

Haggar, who was parish clerk for Upwood and the Raveleys Parish Council, committed the fraud over a period of three years, filing invoices worth hundreds of pounds and channelling money intended for council employees into her own bank account.

She even changed the name on cheques intended for the village gardener employed by the council, so that they were made payable to her instead.

Haggar pleaded guilty to 30 charges of fraud by false representation and one charge of theft by an employee. A court hearing to recover the lost funds is due to take place on July 4 at a location yet to be confirmed.

Speaking outside of court, Councillor Keith Sisman welcomed the sentence, and added he hoped this would mark a new leaf for the council.

He said: "It is pretty devastating and has caused an awful lot of aggravation for people who gave their time freely with the community. In small communities you need to have trust.

"But it really is a new council now and we are looking to the future."

At a provisional hearing last year, prosecutor Laura Mardell said the crime came to light when a councillor noticed it was difficult to get decisions passed.

An internal audit was carried out, at which point Haggar resigned as parish clerk. The audit revealed "wages and expenses not supported by receipt" and "cheques written to herself", said Miss Mardell.

Haggar also took a council filing cabinet valued at £50.

In mitigation for Haggar, Peter Vialls explained that she and her family had financial difficulties.