Former Flintshire web site supervisor stole £15,000 ‘to pay for gambling dependancy’

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THE former manager of a catering site stole hundreds of pounds from his employer every week to pay for his gambling addiction, a court heard.

Richard Hamilton McKinlay, of Marshall Close in Bromborough, appeared at Mold Crown Court for sentencing on Wednesday.

The 55-year-old had admitted two offences at a previous magistrates court hearing; theft by employee and fraud by abuse of position.

Jemma Gordon, prosecuting, told the court the offences were committed against Eurest Catering Company, which provides services across the UK.

McKinlay was the manager of the firm’s site based at Shotton Papermill.

At the end of March last year, regional manager Andrew Roberts contacted the company’s profit protection unit to ask about the site’s cash holdings – which the court heard were higher by comparison to its sales.

Mr Roberts then contacted McKinlay to ask why this was the case, and he admitted to having taken money out of it to “fund his gambling addiction.”

Following an audit, it was found that more than £15,850 was missing.

McKinlay, who confirmed he’d taken the amount over the course of about a year, was suspended.

Ms Gordon said his role had been to oversee the site and he was fully in charge of handling cash.

The site was deemed to be low risk by the profit protection unit due to McKinlay’s “long service and book work.”

When interviewed by police, he told officers he’d been taking £200 to £300 a week in cash from the site’s safe.

He offered to repay the sum once he received his pension.

Dafydd Roberts, defending, said: “He made a full and frank admission and it was very important that came at an early stage so nobody else has been suspected in the firm.

“The remorse is genuine – his good character is lost by his pleas in the Magistrates Court.

“He is a hard working man and has been blighted by his gambling addiction, which has led him to commit these offences.

Mr McKinlay instructs me that there’s no gambling now. It’s been put behind him.

“He does have the funds to repay all the money he stole; a private pension has been drawn down. That can be done in seven days.”

Judge Niclas Parry told McKinlay: “You held a very high position of trust and were in charge of handling and processing cash on that site.

“You abused that trust, causing significant loss.

“The impact is such that it may have jeopardised the employment of other people.

“But you pleaded guilty. No finger was pointed at other potential suspects and no lengthy investigation was required.

“I accept you are truly remorseful and you’re a man of good character up to this point.”

Judge Parry said the case highlighted the “real danger of addiction” and of gambling.

He handed McKinlay an eight month custodial sentence on each of the two counts to run concurrently, but suspended them for two years.

McKinlay was ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation activity.

He was also ordered to repay the full amount of the theft within 28 days.