A WOMAN who worked as personal assistant to the head of a law firm, has admitted stealing almost £1.3million from her employer - and gambling most of it away.

Portuguese born Sandra Rebeira bought a BMW, a speedboat and a house in Portugal with some of the stolen funds but gambled most of it on online betting sites.

Rebeira, aged 41, of St Michael's Road, Cirencester, pleaded guilty at Gloucester Crown Court today to stealing £1,277,585.99 from Residential Lawyers Ltd of Cirencester between February 12, 2012 and August 15, 2015.

She also admitted a charge of possessing criminal property and converting it for her own use by paying it into her partner's bank account.

Her partner, Joao De Sousa, aged 44, also of St Michael's Road, pleaded not guilty to acquiring criminal property - the stolen money - knowing or suspecting it was the proceeds of crime.

He also denied failing to notify details of his bank accounts to the police - something he was obliged to do as a result of having a sexual offence conviction.

The judge, Recorder Jane Rowley, bailed the couple to await De Sousa's trial on December 7. Rebeira will be sentenced after the trial.

The court was told the stolen money had been paid to Residential Lawyers Ltd as stamp duty by clients buying houses.

Rebeira started work with the firm in 2010 as a legal assistant but later became personal assistant to the head of the firm.

Part of her role was to submit notifications and payments of stamp duty to the Inland Revenue.

One hundred and forty five payments were made instead into her husband's account, the prosecution say.

Janine Wood, prosecuting, said she understood Da Sousa's defence is that he did not know the money paid into his account was from crime and thought it was from his partner's successful gambling.

Suzanne Francis, for De Sousa, said: "She used that account for gambling and on a few occasions won a great deal of money - £100,000 on Bingo on one occasion."

The couple are not allowed to leave the country while on bail. 
At an earlier hearing they were ordered to sell a property they had bought in Portugal for €80,000.