City bar boss stole £1,600 on his first night in charge

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A GAMBLING addict pocketed more than £1,600 during his first shift alone in a city centre nightspot.

Barry Dixon emptied the ATM and raided the safe in Chase bar just minutes into his first solo shift as bar boss.

Just hours later, colleagues discovered the cash machine was almost empty and the 23-year-old was swiftly arrested.

Dixon pleaded guilty to theft and fraud at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.

Prosecutor Rachael Dodsworth told magistrates he had lied before he was even awarded the bar supervisor role, telling bosses he had no previous convictions.

In fact Dixon, of Wallsend, had already been before Newcastle magistrates for a similar offence.

He was entrusted with the Park Lane bar’s safe keys in June, but during the shift the hapless thief raided the safe and cash machine.

Mrs Dodsworth said: “His shift ended at 6pm and at around 9.30pm, a Mr Kennedy was informed that ATM in the bar was not dispensing cash.

“He found there was only £10 in it and records showed £500 was missing.”

Money had also disappeared from the bar’s safe and CCTV showed Dixon was the culprit.

In a victim statement, Nicola Lightfoot said: “I trusted him to disclose the relevant information. Unfortunately he did not.

“I am now in a position where I am going to lose money because of his actions.”

Defending Dixon, of Laurel Street, Brian Chapman argued sending him to prison would not allow him to get help for his gambling problem.

District Judge Roger Elsey handed down a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months and ordered Dixon pay back the £1,630 and carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.

He said: “The pre-sentence report shows that you do not pose a risk of harm to the public. Because of that, you will not be going to prison today.

“But clearly the offences are so serious that only a prison sentence can be justified, because of your previous convictions.

“If you continue to gamble and steal, you will be serving a prison sentence for these offences and any new offences.”