Bar manager of Turks Head in Hasketon escapes prison after stealing more than £20,000

The Turks Head, Hasketon. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

The Turks Head, Hasketon. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

A Suffok pub manager who stole more than £20,000 has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send him straight to prison.

Sulayman Sonko has been charged with stealing £29,897.58 from the Turks Head between March 1, 2016 a

Sulayman Sonko has been charged with stealing £29,897.58 from the Turks Head between March 1, 2016 and August 31, 2016. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE - Credit: Archant

Sulayman Sonko, impressed his employers and customers at the Turks Head in Hasketon with his charm while siphoning takings into his bank account.

Today as Sonko was given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for one year, and ordered to do 150 hours’ unpaid work, Ipswich Crown Court heard that his dishonesty had devastating consequences for pub owner Jemima Withey who had been forced to put £30,000 of her savings into the business to keep it going.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mrs Withey said she had been “totally conned” by Sonko’s charm and had suffered “huge stress” as a result of his dishonesty.

Sonko, 40, of Lachlan Green, Woodbridge, admitted stealing £21,435 between March and August last year.

Sentencing him, Recorder Ian Evans told him: “You were in a position of trust and you broke that trust to a high degree.

“Your explanation is that you were using the money to gamble to try and ensure better support for your family members and some non-family members who seemed to be dependent on you for cultural reasons in Gambia.

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“That is clearly no justification for what happened.”

Jamie Sawyer, prosecuting, said Sonko had approached Mrs Withey for work and was taken on as front of house manager at a salary of £24,000pa.

Suspicions were aroused after the pub’s bank account was found to be short of money and when checks were made, £13,000 was found in a drawer.

At the time Sonko said he had been too busy to bank the money and it was later discovered he had made 70 deposits totalling £21,435 into his bank account.

Stephen Mather, for Sonko, said as well as having a partner in the UK he had a partner and two children in Gambia.

He said Sonko, who has no previous convictions, had sent money to Gambia to support them and to pay for schooling and clothing for eight other children that were not his.

He said Sonko had been gambling on football but had now stopped and was genuinely remorseful for his dishonesty.

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