Bookmaker deputy manager gambled away £2,500 of takings and went on the run

William Hill in Sea Road, Sunderland
William Hill in Sea Road, Sunderland

The deputy manager of a bookmakers’ stole £2,500 in takings and gambled them away before going on the run.

Gambling addict Lee Langley, from South Shields, had hoped to double the money and return the cash to William Hills, in Sea Road, Sunderland, before the end of his shift but Sunderland magistrates heard he lost it all.

Ironically his employer is William Hill – a bookmaker – and the cause of this offence is a gambling addiction

Janice Hall, defending

The alarm was raised when the 31-year-old - who has significant gambling debts - failed to open up the premises the following morning.

Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said the shop’s manager was on duty when Langley began his shift at 2.30pm on March 31.

At 4.30pm, Langley began to empty the gaming machines and, when his boss finished work at 5.30pm, he believed Langley had deposited half the money in the safe and the other half in the till.

Mrs Beck said: “He believes he stole £2,500 in bank notes rather than depositing them in the time delay safe hatch.”

She said Langley left the shop at 10pm and, the following morning, another manager was alerted to the shop not being open.

It was discovered that the safe contained just £300.

Mrs Beck said Langley attended the police station voluntarilly.

She said: “He fully admitted stealing the money. Throughout the evening he planned to take it and put it to one side and take it at the end of his shift. He thought he had taken about £2,500 and did it to gamble it and double the money, then pay it back and pay his bills.

“There were text messages between the defendant and his partner, confirming what he had done but that he was unsuccessful.”

“The £2,500 is still outstanding.”

Langley, of Egerton Road, South Shields, admitted theft by employee.

The court heard Langley has a previous conviction - for a dissimilar matter - dating back to 2006.

A victim impact statement from William Hill stated that it had been difficult providing customers with large payouts the day after the theft because the shop had been unable to provide cashiers with their regular float.

A probation report said Langley owed between £6,000 and £8,000 in gambling debts.

Janice Hall, defending, said: “What is quite clear from the texts between himself and his partner is that he was at a point of crisis.

“He was in significant debt due to gambling and took the very rash decision to steal this money from his employer.

“Having realised the error of his ways he disappeared. His girlfriend reported him missing.

“He had suicidal thoughts – mentioned in the text messages between him and his girlfriend.

“Having suffered that breakdown he did return and faced up to his responsibility to his employer.”

Mrs Hall said Langley had been signed off sick since the incident and that he was expecting to lose his job.

The firm has referred him to a gambling counsellor.

Mrs Hall added: “Ironically his employer is William Hill – a bookmaker – and the cause of this offence is a gambling addiction.”

Langley was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work. He was also told to pay £2,500 in compensation, at a rate of £10 per fortnight.