A South Tyneside bar manager who stole thousands of pounds of cash from his employers to fund a gambling habit has been spared jail.
David Johnson stole £6,840 from The Beach and Glitterball venues in Ocean Road, South Shields, which he managed.
The 50-year-old admitted snatching the money, some of which was from boxing machines, but denied taking it for himself.
He argued at his trial that he had taken the money from the cash streams in order to buy items for the venues, as they had both been given zero spend
budgets by their owner, Drinks Group.
Johnson, from Hawthorne Avenue in South Shields, claimed that he had spent the cash on items such as toilet rolls, or else they would have ran out.
However a jury found that he had in fact spent at least some of the money on himself.
Recorder Andrew Baker QC told Moot Hall in Newcastle how during his trial the prosecution had provided substantial evidence to prove that Johnson spent around £1,500 on himself and and some of that money was spent on a Sky Bet account.
Prosecutor Graham O'Sullivan told the court that Johnson had abused the trust put in him by his employer to run two venues and had used their funds to feed his gambling habit.
The court heard how the money had been stolen over a period of four months.
Glenn Gatland, defending, told the court how Johnson no longer had a gambling problem and his life was back on track.
Mr Gatland said: "He has just started working full time, earning around £350 a week and he has the responsibility of looking after his elderly mother.
"He is no longer involved in gambling and he will probably never be in any trouble again."
Johnson denied theft but was found guilty after a trial.
Recorder Baker QC told Johnson: "You abused your employers trust by taking money from those cash streams.
"You did not simply put your hand in the till for your own benefit, but you did do this to some extent.
"This is the first time you have been in any trouble with the law.
"You were previously of good character, however that good character has now been lost forever.
"You have a good character reference and are now in full time employment.
"I am suspending your sentence for that reason."
Recorder Baker QC sentenced Johnson to 12 months in prison suspended for 18 months and 100 hours unpaid work.
He was told he will be ordered to repay the stolen cash, however the amount is to be decided at a later date.