Sunderland bar boss admits stealing more than £10,000 from city centre venue

Vesta Tilley's

Vesta Tilley's

A Sunderland bar boss has admitted stealing more than £10,000 from the city centre venue he was operating.

Mark Hardy, 43, claims threats from loan sharks led to him pocketing £10,440 belonging to Amber Taverns, while he was running Vesta Tilley’s in High Street West, Sunderland magistrates heard.

It has left him at the brink of disaster. The residency he had was part and parcel of his job. This was taken off him on Friday, so he is going to be homeless

Jason Smith, defending

He pleaded guilty to theft by employee.

Prosecutor Jeanette Smith said £12,000, as stated in the charge, was the full amount of the theft – which occurred last month.

However, defence solicitor Jason Smith said: “Mr Hardy will plead guilty to the sum of £10,440.

“There is a discrepancy of £1,500, because the week he was arrested, he got his wages from the brewery.”

Ms Smith said she had been unable to confirm this.

Mr Smith said: “He’s effectively the landlord, employed in his own company and was responsible for paying a percentage of the takings back to the brewery.

“He’s got himself into an awful situation, financial difficulties with loan sharks and other individuals.”

Mr Smith said Hardy had approached the brewery for help, but they had declined.

“He was robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Mr Smith added.

“The amount he was having to pay back was 100% more than he’d borrowed.

“He was taking money from the floats to pay it.

“He was in a horrible, desperate situation that got out of control.

“It has left him at the brink of disaster.

“The residency he had was part and parcel of his job. This was taken off him on Friday, so he is going to be homeless.

“The loan shark is coming back on Friday for £3,000, otherwise Mr Hardy will suffer the consequences.

“He will, unfortunately, suffer those consequences because he doesn’t have that money.

“He’s got himself into a situation where he’s made himself extremely vulnerable, and he is the sole carer for his son.”

District Judge Roger Elsey adjourned the case until November 29, for at report to be prepared. He said he did not rule out committal to the crown court for sentence, due to the breach of trust involved in the offence.