A shop worker who was accused of stealing more than £50,000 from a Sunderland post office and convenience store has avoided jail.
Alison Wilson pleaded guilty to theft at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court on the basis she had stolen £4,000.
Prosecutors accepted the basis of plea because they were unable to prove the higher sum following legal submissions at an earlier hearing from defence solicitor Peter Thubron.
The court heard Wilson had worked on the till at Rawmarsh News in Rawmarsh Road, Red House for four years.
“The offending came to light when the shop owner, Rajbant Kaur, found she was spending more on stock than was coming into the till,” said James Palmer, prosecuting.
“An investigation showed Mrs Wilson had worked out how to void transactions, enabling her to keep the money paid for them.
“In that respect, we say there was an element of sophistication about the offending.
“Mrs Wilson did admit to police she had been taking money, saying she did so due to being in debt and being short of money herself.”
Wilson, 53, of Hylton Lane, Downhill, admitted theft between January and May, 2016.
She was of previous good character.
Mr Thubron said in mitigation: “Mrs Wilson’s offending was not sophisticated, she did not fully understand the till system.
“All she did was not ring in some cash transactions each day.
“She would keep a mental tally of their value, so she would know how much money she should take to make the till balance.
“That conduct does her no credit, but it’s not correct to describe her as a sophisticated thief.
“Mrs Wilson is thoroughly ashamed of herself, and faces the prospect of never getting another job.
“Her husband is a window cleaner who doesn’t make a great deal of money, so the future for the family finances is bleak.
“A prison sentence would do nothing to help her, but she would benefit from the help and guidance of probation.”
The bench sentenced Wilson to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 weeks, and ordered her to pay £4,000 compensation to her former employer.
The money is to be paid at £10 a fortnight.
Following the case, Mrs Kaur, who runs the shop with husband Raj Singh, said: “It’s only fair that she is punished and made to pay back the money which she stole.
“It sets a good example to other people who might be thinking about stealing.
“It’s taken a long while for this to come to court but we’re pleased it is all settled.
“We feel let down by what she did, because she worked for us for four years, but this shows that anyone who does wrong should be made to suffer.”