Shop worker's £55,000 fraud to fund online gambling habit
A TRUSTED shop worker who cheated his bosses out of more than £55,300 in a desperate bid to fund his huge gambling addiction has been spared prison.
He had racked up more than £78,000 on online gambling and once spent £1,800 on poker in just one night, a court heard.
James Jennings, 42, of Charles Street, Cleethorpes, admitted two offences of fraud while working as a sales assistant for Ron Ramsdens Ltd.
The first involved abusing his position to the tune of £36,661 between April 1 and December 31, 2011, and the other involved £18,715 between January 1 and March 23 last year. A previous hearing at Grimsby Crown Court heard that it was discovered that refunds totalling £18,000 to £20,000 had been given by the store in Cleethorpe Road, Grimsby.
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A customer who contacted the store about furniture that was due to be delivered was told that records showed that the order had been cancelled and a full refund of £1,057 had been given.
Inquiries were made and Jennings told the store manager: "I'm sorry. I put this on my card. It's the first time I have done it."
He admitted he was responsible for most of the £18,000 to £20,000 refunds, with payments being made to his credit card since May the previous year.
He admitted that between April 2011 and March last year, he had made refunds to his credit card 51 times, totalling £55,376.
He said he had spent more than £78,000 on online gambling.
Andrew Bailey, mitigating, told a resumed hearing before Hull Crown Court that Jennings had been on benefit after the offer of a previous job he was expecting in July was withdrawn. He had managed to save £300 from his benefit towards repaying the lost cash.
Judge Kate Buckingham told Jennings: "In breach of trust, you had received in excess of £55,000. You readily admitted your dishonest conduct to the police and how you used the funds to finance your online gambling.
"All in all, you spent £78,000 on gambling."
Jennings had used the fraudulently obtained money for his gambling, as well as taking out bank loans and using family savings, said Judge Buckingham.
"You have shown genuine remorse and shame for your dishonesty," she added.
Jennings had received gambling counselling and had joined a retraining programme at college, including working as a teaching assistant. References praised his "hard work and commitment", said Judge Buckingham.
Jennings was given a one-year suspended prison sentence, 200 hours' unpaid work and nine sessions of a probation service Chance To Change programme.
Judge Buckingham ordered him to pay over the £300 he had saved as "some gesture towards compensating your former employer".
No other compensation order was made, meaning that the company will probably either have to write off the loss or pursue a civil claim.