THE manager of an amusements arcade stole tens of thousands of pounds from the branch’s slot machines and the safe in order to fund her gambling addiction.
Danielle Lowe pinched more than £60,000 in cash from the Admiral Casino on Union Street in the town centre over a period of five months by abusing her position.
But she was spared an immediate prison sentence at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday, Tuesday.
The court heard that the 24-year-old’s superiors became aware of a discrepancy in funds at the site in February last year.
Lowe, of Blackledge Close in Cinnamon Brow, admitted that she had been taking money from the safe and gaming machines since the previous September after being confronted.
She confessed that she had developed her addiction after beginning to gamble ‘by way of escapism’ from an abusive relationship, and had racked up ‘significant’ debts as a result.
The defendant then reported herself to the police over the swindle – which totalled £66,151.80, or around 10 weeks of takings.
Defence barrister Charlotte Kenny told the court that her client was ‘ashamed’ of her actions, adding: “She knew it was a question of time before this was discovered, and it was a great relief when it was uncovered.
“Despite the shame and guilt, she was relieved it had come to an end.
“This is a young woman who has already been punished by her own view of herself as a consequence of this offending.
“If this addiction can be curtailed and stopped, she will never darken the courts again.”
Lowe, who had been employed at the premises for four years before her offending began and had been site manager for two years, admitted theft by employee and false accounting during an earlier court hearing.
She was handed a 12-month imprisonment suspended for two years and a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 25 days, as well as being ordered to carry out 175 hours of unpaid work.
Sentencing, judge Anil Murray said: “I accept that you are genuinely remorseful because of the way you behaved afterwards – you have sought help and changed your behaviour.
“You are usually an honest and hard-working person.
“This has to be a prison sentence, the issue is whether I can suspend that prison sentence.
“I’ve decided that I am able to suspend this sentence in this case, but it has been close.
“If we meet again then you will give me no choice but to send you to prison.”
Lowe – who has no previous convictions – is due to be brought back before the court later this year for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, during which she could be ordered to repay her ill-gotten gains.