A shop manager who embezzled more than £4,000 from Heron and Brearley will spend her 56th birthday later this week in prison.
Michelle Atherton managed the Spar shop on Parliament Street in Ramsey, but unknown to her employer, she took sums of money from the takings between November 2014 and May 2015 totalling £4,251.
For the prosecution, Barry Swain said as manager, Atherton was responsible for banking the shop’s takings, and this was supposed to be done on a daily basis six days a week.
However, he said in May this year, one of the company accountants flagged up a discrepancy of £2,625 between the takings and the amount banked in the previous month.
The matter was raised with Atherton who provided banking slips for £2,625, but these related to a different period from the one under scrutiny. An audit of the shop’s safe revealed a further £1,626 was also missing.
The court heard Atherton had admitted theft, saying it started off with low amounts because she was experiencing financial difficulties and matters had escalated from there.
Mr Swain requested compensation equivalent to the sum taken.
Defending her, advocate Peter Russell said the thefts had gone on over an 18-month period.
‘There was a lack of due diligence by her employer, otherwise this would have come to light earlier,’ he said, citing the defendant’s financial difficulties as lying at the root of the problem.
‘She and her husband keep their finances separate and each has responsibility for certain household expenses. She did not want to trouble her husband about it so she started borrowing from the till and repaying it. Then it got out of hand and the amount built up and she stopped repaying it. So we ended up with more than £4,000 taken. When you are only taking around £50, it doesn’t seem like so much.
‘She is deeply upset and ashamed about it and has genuine remorse,’ he said.
Mr Russell said work was still available to Atherton and she hoped to be able to repay the debt.
‘There has been a degree of sticking her head in the sand on this matter but she has been hard-working over the years, has good references and is assessed as being of low risk in terms of reoffending.’
Mr Russell said if a custodial sentence were to be imposed it should be suspended given the defendant’s more mature age, her slightly fragile mental state and the fact that she had no prior experience of custody.
Sentencing her to 10 weeks’ immediate custody, Deputy High Bailiff Jayne Hughes said the offence involved a breach of trust. She must pay £4,251 compensation but no costs order was made.