Northern Ireland

Gambling addict Giles McAllen stole £150,000 from Moira shop

Giles McAllen Image copyright Paul Higgins
Image caption Giles McAllen had access to the safe containing the shop's takings

A shop manager who stole almost £150,000 to fund a gambling addiction has been jailed for 10 months.

Giles McAllen, 28, of Deramore Park in Magherafelt, bet the majority of the stolen cash at a single bookmakers.

The bets were all cash transactions, including some totalling more than £100,000 in a single day.

McAllen had been the manager at a store in Moira from June 2015 and had responsibility for handling cash.

A prosecutor said there were two safes in the shop, one for day to day cash for the tills and the other for the takings. It needed two keys - McAllen's and one held by G4S for when they made secure collections.

The second key had been left at the shop.

Ownership of the business was transferred and on 23 July last year an operations manager "noticed an anomaly of £600", the prosecution lawyer said.

Further investigations revealed no money had been lodged that month at all and that according to sale figures, "about £144,000 was unaccounted for".

McAllen was spoken to and claimed the missing cash was in the second safe, but that he had forgotten his key. He made more excuses the next day.

When the second safe was eventually opened, it contained no cash and eventually McAllen's father told senior managers "all of the money had gone to the bookies".

Arrested and interviewed McAllen "made full and frank admissions" about stealing the cash, which he used to place bets of between £100 to £4,000.

He pleaded guilty at a later stage to a single count of the theft of £149,480 from his employers on dates between 1 April and 29 July last year.

The prosecutor told the court that both the staff and owner at Tommy French bookmakers in Moira were spoken to and that betting slips revealed how £629,846 had gone through the betting shop between stakes and wins, including stakes of more than £100,000 in a single day.

He added, however, that when McAllen kept betting, "he simply loses that money."

'Not some millionaire'

A defence barrister said it was clear that McAllen is "genuinely remorseful and entirely ashamed" of his actions which were always going to be uncovered given there was no sophistication to the thefts.

The judge at Craigavon Crown Court said he was astonished by the huge amount of large bets being made at a single bookmakers.

The judge said "it seems from what the manager said that you reinvested, or gambled, or threw away, large sums of money in their direction" so much so that they profited by around £123,000.

"It astonishes me that you were placing large sums of money in cash even though they knew you were a worker at a local shop, rather than some money millionaire who simply happened to stop off in Moira from time to time to place bets," the judge said.

He said while he had no powers to do anything about the bookmakers, "it's a matter that could be referred to the council when their licence is up for renewal".

He added, however, that "whatever the shortcomings of the bookmakers, at the end of the day the responsibility for the criminality lies at your hands and no one else's".

The judge jailed McAllen for 10 months and ordered him to spend the same period on supervised licence.

Tommy French bookmakers was contacted by the BBC, but did not want to comment on the case.