A woman from South Tyneside who was accused of stealing cash from a children’s’ activity centre has been cleared of wrongdoing – and received an apology from a judge.
Karen Dunbar was claimed to have taken £3,800 while working at Mr Twisters in Gateshead, which specialises in indoor soft play and parties.
The 33-year-old, of Masefield Drive, South Shields, was accused of committing the offences between January and June last year.
She had denied offences of fraud by making a false representation.
Dunbar was to face a trial by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court but her case was brought before a judge, prior to the trial date, for a hearing so prosecutors could drop the case – more than a year after she was arrested and accused.
Mr Recorder William Lowe QC recorded a not guilty verdict and told her: “The prosecution have offered no evidence and I have entered not guilty verdicts on this indictment.
“I would just like to say I am sorry this has taken so long and I am quite sure it would have been a great strain on you. I am sorry, I can’t say more than that.”
Prosecutor Gavin Doig told the court the case had a “long history” and said investigations had revealed “weaknesses” in the evidence against Dunbar.
Mr Doig said: “The crown, accordingly, no longer believe there to be a reasonable prospect of conviction.
“It is unfortunate it has taken so long to reach this stage. I offer no evidence.”
Dunbar was hugged by her supporters, who were visibly emotional, at the conclusion of the hearing