King’s Lynn shop owner admits he was “naive” after an employee stole more than £18,000 to fund scratchcard addiction

Shaun Blackmur at his newsagents in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Shaun Blackmur at his newsagents in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

The owner of a west Norfolk newsagent has admitted he was 'naive' after a member of his staff stole more than £18,000 to fund her gambling addiction to scratchcards. Jenny Thomas, 57, took the cash over a two-year period by avoiding scanning items through the till, at High Street News in King's Lynn, Norwich Crown Court heard on Monday.

It was not until a covert camera was installed above the tills following a tip-off from a customer, that Thomas's boss knew what she was up to.

'We had known for quite some time there was a problem but we thought it was a system problem. We didn't want to believe it was a member of staff but we should have known better,' said owner Shaun Blackmur.

'We were naive, we thought it had to be a system fault because the staff had been there for so long.'

Mr Blackmur, 52 of Fincham, said a customer buying cigarettes reported Thomas had not scanned the items through the till, so he installed cameras. He witnessed Thomas on the CCTV footage not scanning 13 items during one hour.

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'My reaction was almost one of 'have we just seen that, is that what had just happened?'

'It was one of dismay, we were shocked,' added Mr Blackmur, whose wife Susan works in the shop, which has since moved premises along the Saturday Market Place and has been renamed Market Place Convenience. He said the business, which the couple bought in 2013, suffered a serious blow and if it was not for sourcing money elsewhere, including by selling off shares, his employees would have lost their jobs.

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'My wife's confidence has been shattered really. We didn't want to believe what she was doing.

'I don't have sympathy because of what Jenny has done to my wife. That's the bit which hurts me because Sue treated her as a friend. I consider my staff as part of our extended family.'

Thomas, of Paige Close in Watlington, admitted to fraud and was jailed for 15 months.

The court heard she was 'deeply ashamed' but her husband was standing by her and had cashed in his pension so they could pay most of the cash back.

Now Mr Blackmur said he was towards the future, he added: 'It's onwards and upwards, we need to move forward now.'

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