A “BAD apple” volunteer stole cash from the charity shop where she worked three times in the space of a month.
Mandy Judson was arrested by police after the third of the thefts at the St Clare’s Hospice charity shop in Horsley Hill, South Shields.
Staff found slits in bags containing the shop takings, which the 39-year-old had handled while cashing up.
Judson, a mother-of-three denied the offences – totalling £220 – but was convicted of theft at a trial lasting a day-and-a-half and involving a dozen witnesses at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
The thefts took place on June 14, July 5 and July 12 of last year.
Judson was given a 12-month community order and made to pay compensation and foot the hefty bill for trial costs at a sentencing hearing at the court yesterday.
We are disappointed that one of our trusted volunteers has chosen to steal from usSt Clare’s Hospice Chief Executive, David Hall
David Hall, chief executive of Jarrow-based St Clare’s Hospice, which was set up in 1987 to provide palliative care to adults with life-limiting illnesses, said he is “saddended and disappointed” that his charity had to call in police to take action against a trusted volunteer.
He said: “This is one bad apple when we have so many volunteers who support our charity.”
The charity has to raise about £1.4m each year through fundraising efforts and spending at its charity shops, to help meet annual running costs of close to £2m.
Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said: “Judson was convicted of three thefts from the St Clare’s charity shop in Horsley Hill, South Shields, where she was a volunteer.
“Money was usually cashed up and taken to the office, where it was cashed up again. Cash was taken from the money bags on three occasions.
“Slits were found in the bags of money. The defendant had access to the shop and to the safe, where the money was kept.”
A total of £220 was stolen during the three thefts, £80 on July 12 and £70 on both June 14 and July 5.
Investigations carried out by the charity linked Judson to all three thefts and police were called in.
Kate Lewis, defending, said Judson, who is formerly of Mortimer Road, South Shields but now lives in Chaucer Street, Mansfield, still denies carrying out the thefts.
Mrs Lewis said: “She continues to deny any involvement in these offences. She is giving further thought about whether to appeal.
“The offences go back almost a year ago and there is no suggestion she has been involved in any criminal behaviour since her arrest on July 12.”
As part of her community order, Judson must complete 60 hours of unpaid work.
She was ordered to pay compensation of £220, as well as a contribution to prosecution costs of £400 and a victim surcharge of £60.
Mr Hall added: “Clearly, we are disappointed that one of our trusted volunteers has chosen to steal from us.You don’t expect it to happen.
“It is important from our point of view that we work with the police to ensure a conviction if appropriate.
“Our investigations found that she was the only person who could have been responsible. We have a system to make sure we keep track of the money.
“It saddens me that we have had to do this.
“We have to have the trust of the people who donate money to us and spend money in our shops, so that they know their money is going to where it is intended.
“We have over 250 volunteers freely giving their time to the hospice and the vast majority of them give fantastic service.
“Occasionally, people think they can take advantage of a situation.”