Man avoids jail after stealing �64k from Asda

A FORMER shop assistant has been given a suspended sentence after admitting stealing �64,000 from his supermarket employers that he then blew on internet gambling.

Jonathan Clarke, 22, worked for the Stowmarket branch of Asda when, over a period of at least two years, he systematically stole the cash from the till by carrying out fraudulent refunds.

Clarke, of Constable Way, Stowmarket, was caught in late 2009 when a till audit was carried out and suspicious staff conducted an internal investigation.

When questioned, Clarke admitted that he had been stealing the money for two years and till records backed this up. No proof could be found for any offences before 2007 as the till system had been overhauled.

Michael Crimp, prosecuting, said: “There was some suggestion that it may have gone on before that, but till receipts don’t go on before that.”

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Ipswich Crown Court heard that Clarke had “blown” all his ill-gotten gains on web-based gambling sites and had nothing to show for his crimes.

Stephen Dyble, for Clarke, admitted that his client’s crimes were not a “one-off” and were spread over a period of time, betraying the trust of his employers, but that he had never been in trouble before and was unlikely to offend again.

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He told the court: “The money has been blown. The chances of him re-offending are very low. He has nothing. Every penny has found its way to internet gaming sites – he has not used the money for flash things.”

The court was told that since being sacked by Asda Clarke had found work and sought help for his gambling problem. Judge David Goodin said: “Systematic, determined theft at this level – �64,000 in total – over this period of time is exceptionally serious.

“It passes the custody threshold but I don’t intend to see you in prison today. You are of good character – well, fair character now – but you were of good character and you are doing your bit to make something of yourself.”

Clarke was handed a 12-month sentence, suspended for a year, was given an electronic tag curfew from 10pm to 6am for ten weeks and was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

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