Morrisons manager stole from store after online gambling led to £64,000 debt

Morrisons in Gorleston, where Mark James was a senior manager. Photo: Andy Darnell

Morrisons in Gorleston, where Mark James was a senior manager. Photo: Andy Darnell - Credit: Archant © 2008

A debt-ridden senior manager who worked for Morrisons for almost 30 years was sacked after admitting stealing £2,000 from his employers.

Mark James, of Rio Close, Lowestoft, stole money from the store's safe after finding himself £64,000 in debt.

The 49-year-old had been in the role at the Gorleston store for eight years, having worked for Morrisons for 29 years.

Victoria Bastock, prosecuting, said: 'He had been assigned to count the cash in the office but an audit was held afterwards which found there was £2,000 missing from the safe.

'An internal investigation was launched and he was seen on CCTV putting cash in the front of his waistband.

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'He told police he didn't know why he had done it other than the pressure of his debt.'

James admitted the theft during a meeting with another store manager on October 10. He appeared at Great Yarmouth Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, February 6, where he pleaded guilty to theft by employee.

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Arthur Balls, defending, said: 'Although he was a senior manager, looking after the finances was only a small part of his responsibilities.

'His main role was looking after the store, the staff and the customers.

'Once a week, he would check the money in the safe, but that was checked twice a day by other staff members.

'He is genuinely remorseful and it is the only thing he has done wrong in his life.

'It was not a sophisticated crime and he knew the checks would be made. He knew he would be caught.

'He was £64,000 in debt and part of it was his fault through online gambling. It was all building up and he was not thinking rationally.

'He had been employed without any blemishes for 29 years and now he has lost his good character and ruined his working life.'

James was handed a 12 month community order involving 250 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £2,000 in compensation to Morrisons, court costs of £85, and a victim surcharge of £85.

Michael Flores, chair of the bench, said: 'Your 49 years without being in trouble cannot be trivialised and a large part of your penalty is the fact that you have lost your job and your reputation, and that will follow you for the rest of your life.'

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