Store worker who stole £15,000 from South Shields Tesco must pay back just £1

The Tesco store at Simonside.
The Tesco store at Simonside.

A SUPERMARKET supervisor from South Tyneside who pocketed £15,000 of company cash walked free from court – after being ordered to pay back just £1.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Joan Allan was a victim of loan sharks and packed £15,725 into a brown envelope at Tesco’s store in Simonside, South Shields, and simply walked out with the money before her shift ended on January 19.

You behaved foolishly when you took this money but I have no doubt you acted in desperation, knowing full well you would never get away with it.

The 57-year-old, of Clovelly Place, Jarrow, used the bulk of the cash to pay these debts – caused by her online gambling addiction – and when police got to her home, hours later, only £2,555 was left.

Graham O’Sullivan, prosecuting, told the court Allan had worked at the store for almost 20 years and was employed in the shop’s cash office.

She was seen on CCTV putting takings into the envelope, which she put into a plastic bag. Mr O’Sullivan said: “She put £85 in the safe, hung her keys up and left the office. She left the store, still carrying the bag of money.

“Her manager realises she had not been in contact and had left work early. Another manager checked the safe and found the £85, having been expecting to find substantially more.

“When they checked the CCTV from the room, they saw the defendant taking the money. The whole incident was recorded.”

Allan was arrested within hours when police went to her home and she showed them the money she had left.

Mr O’Sullivan added: “She said if the police had not come, she would have handed herself in.

“She said she stole the cash because she had an addiction to online gambling, had taken out a loan from loan sharks and had owed in the region of £12,000.

“She stated she had been halfway through the counting when she realised how easy it would be to take the money and pay the loan sharks off.”

Mr Recorder Tahir Khan QC sentenced Allan to a community order for 12 months with supervision.

The judge ruled Allan had benefited by £13,170 through her crime, but ordered her to pay back just £1 due to lack of assets.

She faces seven days in jail if she fails to pay the pound.

The judge told her: “I imagine that for someone like you, who at 57 has never been in trouble before, that the embarrassment of being arrested, kept in a police station and then being prosecuted and brought to court must be significant.

“You behaved foolishly when you took this money but I have no doubt you acted in desperation, knowing full well you would never get away with it.

“This was not a sophisticated crime.”

Vic Laffey, defending, said Allan is remorseful for what happened and has been assessed as posing a low risk of re-offending.

She has never been in trouble before.

Mr Laffey added: “It appears, from the account she has given, that she went directly to the loan shark to pay the debt that was owed.”

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