Post Office manager spared jail after stealing £10,000 from customers to fund £200-a-day cocaine habit
A Post Office manager pocketed £10,000 in cash handed over by customers who wanted to pay their bills to pay for her £200-a-day drug habit.
Victoria Rogers processed electronic payments made at the Newtown Road Post Office in Boldon Colliery in the normal way but afterwards "reversed" the transactions and pocketed the cash for herself.
Newcastle Crown Court heard between July 2017 and October 2017 the 34-year-old carried out the illegal process on 78 occasions in order to fund her £200-a-day cocaine habit.
An investigation was launched after customers who had handed over cash at the store were contacted by companies about missed payments.
Mum-of-two Rogers admitted what she had done as soon as she was confronted about it.
Prosecutor Mark Guiliani told the court Rogers’ dependency on cocaine significantly increased after a relationship breakdown “to the extent she had a habit which she says was up to £200 per day”.
He added: "It was grossly in excess of her income and in order to fund her habit she started stealing from customers of the Post Office.
"The method was relatively straight forward.
"Members of the public would use the Post Office to pay their bill. They would go through an electronic system.
"The system has means of reversal, should there be genuine mistakes.
"What she did on 78 occasions was reverse payments customers had made, pocketing the money for herself.
"That had the effect that customers depositing money in the Post Office, on many occasions to pay utility bills, found that their bills were not paid and would have suffered as a consequence of late or non payment."
Mr Guiliani said the Post Office refunded all of the customers who lost money but added: "However, there was stress and strain on the losers of finding out the payments had not been made."
He said Rogers' scam was "unsophisticated" and she was "bound to be caught".
Rogers, of Lorrain Road, South Shields, admitted theft by employee.
Judge Robert Spragg sentenced her to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with rehabilitation requirements and 100 hours unpaid work.
The judge said: "The Post Office refunded the money to the losers but no doubt it would have been upsetting and stressful for them when they realised their bills had not been paid."
Judge Spragg said Rogers has a "realistic prospect of rehabilitation" and added: "In my view, the appropriate punishment can take place in the community".
Vic Laffey, defending, said Rogers was in the "grip of a drug addiction" at the time of the offending, that cost her her job and her home.
Mr Laffey added: "For a relatively short period of time she lost control of her life because of this drug addiction."
Mr Laffey said in the two years since the offences Rogers has "started putting things right" and has found a new home, enrolled at college and become drug free.
He added: "She has waited patiently for this day to come about. She is in a state this morning and has been like that, off and on, for the last 24 months.
"She has made positive changes to her life.
"She presents no risk to the public, an immediate prison sentence does not have to be the only option here."