A woman stole scratch cards worth over £1,300 from her employer and fraudulently claimed over £750 in winnings, Banbridge Magistrates Court heard last Thursday.
Ann McInnes (54), Scarva Walk, Banbridge, pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud by abuse of position.
It was alleged that on May 24, 25, 28 and 31 last year and June 1 last year she appropriated lottery cards without paying for them and claimed any winnings.
The court heard that on June 2 last year the owner of the Costcutter store on the Ballygowan Road, Banbridge, became aware that £10 scratch cards were missing.
CCTV showed the defendant, who worked in the shop, taking the cards without paying for them.
The cards taken were worth £1,390 and the money paid out was £756.
In a police interview she admitted taking the cards saying that she wasn’t addicted to gambling. McInnes said that ‘her head was all over the place’ with her mum not being well.
A barrister representing the defendant said she appreciated it was a serious matter.
He said that it was outlined in the pre-sentence report that her own medical difficulties continue and those of her mother.
The lawyer explained she was in an environment of financial hardship and when she was exposed to temptation in the shop she succumbed.
Turning to the question of restitution he said McInnes was living on £50 a week and at the time of the offences was living from hand to mouth paying for bills and food.
Because of her limited means she could not visit her mother in Dromore who was ill because she couldn’t afford the transport.
The barrister said she was not in a position to discharge any restitution.
Deputy District Judge Trevor Browne said it was unfortunate the defendant had got to her age with a clear record and then found herself in court.
He added that if someone gives a person a job he needs to trust them and they should not ‘bite the hand that is feeding them’.
The judge said that although this happened over a short period of time the custody threshold had been crossed for what was a ‘nasty breach of trust’ case.
He imposed concurrent six month prison sentences on each of the five charges, suspending the terms for 18 months.
“I don’t think there is any point in making a restitution order. She is not able to pay this money back,” he added.