Thief who stole Christmas from workmates

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A SOUTH Tyneside superstore worker turned into the grinch who stole Christmas after he ran off with the festive savings of 43 colleagues.

Takhat Singh, formerly of Fellgate Avenue, Jarrow, took more than £5,000 of Christmas club money belonging to staff at Asda’s distribution centre in Washington.

Savers were left high and dry when it came to collecting their cash, with one having to take out a pay-day loan and another struggling to buy presents for his young family.

Despite being a trusted and popular member of staff, Singh used the £5,738 handed to him during the course of the year to meet day-to-day expenses after his family ran into financial difficulties.

Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard the 53-year-old had worked at the warehouse for the past 17 years and had ran the Christmas club savings account for the past four.

Each of the 43 members would pay varying amounts into the club on a weekly basis, with Singh responsible for looking after the money.

But, last December, as workers were getting ready to claim their cash, Singh told his manager he had spent it all.

Lee Poppett, prosecuting, read statements from some affected workers.

One said: “I was shocked at what Takhat had done. I was relying on that money for Christmas presents for my six-week-old baby and two children, aged three and four.

“I had to get out a pay-day loan to cover my costs and feel badly let down.”

The court was told bosses at Asda stepped in and paid out the money to make sure none of their workers ended up missing out.

One employee, who was due £780 from the fund, said: “I was shocked and disappointed by what he did to me and my family. If it wasn’t for Asda Christmas would have been ruined for all of us.”

The court heard there had never been a problem with the savings fund before and many of the staff had been left shocked by Singh’s behaviour.

Ruth Forster, defending, said: “Mr Singh believed he would be taking redundancy last year but when he heard that was no longer an option, he realised he would not be able to pay the money back. He then went and told his manager.

“Individuals were hurt, yes, but they were not left out of pocket, that money is now owed to Asda.”

The court was told Singh’s daughter and estranged wife were both disabled and the family had been experiencing financial difficulties.

Ms Forster added: “He took it upon himself to help out the family.”

Magistrates transferred the case to Newcastle Crown Court for sentencing. Singh, now living at Nearfield Road, Doncaster, pleaded guilty to theft and was granted unconditional bail.

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