A THIEF who stole almost £4,000 from a South Tyneside pub where he was due to start work has been warned he faces a prison sentence.
Paul Robinson was being trained to start work as a supervisor at the Ben Lomond in Grange Road, Jarrow, by his girlfriend, an assistant manager.
On three occasions, he was trusted to deposit the takings from the bar – a total of £3,877.94 – at the nearby post office, but the cash was never paid in.
The 49-year-old was found out after an audit into missing cash proved the discrepancies fell on the days he was handling the cash.
Robinson, who pleaded guilty to theft at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday, said his girlfriend knew nothing of his plans to fleece the pub, and that he took the money to pay off a loan shark.
Stan Sudworth, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was in a relationship with the assistant manager for about seven months.
“He was due to start work there, and was being trained up by her.
“One of the tasks she showed Robinson was how to deposit takings at the post office.”
Magistrates heard that on January 21 and 30 and February 7 this year, Robinson was entrusted to deposit a total of £3,877.94 at the post office.
When the books didn’t balance, an audit showed the cash was never paid in.
Mr Sudworth added: “When he was arrested, Robinson told police that the theft had nothing to do with his partner and he needed to the money to pay off a debt from five years ago.
“He said he was sorry, and his life was in a mess.”
The court heard that Robinson has a previous conviction for stealing from an employer.
Charles Weidner, defending, told the court that his client needed money to pay off loan sharks.
He said: “He borrowed money five years ago from individuals who operate money-lending schemes outside of the mainstream.
“He paid off some, and was told that he didn’t need to repay the rest.
“However, he was visited by one of the men, who said he needed to settle the debt.
“He thought those days were behind him.”
Mr Weidner told the court that Robinson still owed about £4,000 and was worried what the loan sharks would do to him and his family if he didn’t pay them.
He added: “His partner had nothing to do with this.
“The money-lenders made threats to him, and said they knew where his pregnant daughter lived.”
Magistrates adjourned the case until Friday for the probation service to prepare a report.
Chairman of the bench, Barry Hunter, said: “The starting point for sentencing you for this offence is custody.
“We know from your record that this isn’t the first time you have done this, which makes it worse.
“But we feel a report from the probation service would be beneficial to give us the full background of the offence and you.
“But be under no illusions, you are looking at a custodial sentence here.”
Robinson, of Salisbury Street, Gateshead, was released on unconditional bail.
Greene King, which runs the Ben Lomond, declined to make a comment.