Thieving Sunderland bar boss emerges from court wearing mask

Vesta Tilley's former manager Mark Hardy leaves court wearing a mask
Vesta Tilley's former manager Mark Hardy leaves court wearing a mask

A Sunderland bar boss who stole more than £10,000 from his employer is still to learn his punishment after his latest court appearance.

Mark Hardy, 43, had been due to be sentenced at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court after helping himself to cash belonging to Amber Taverns, while running Vesta Tilleys in High Street West.

Vesta Tilley's

Vesta Tilley's

However, sentencing was adjourned until December 6, following submissions from Hardy’s solicitor Jason Smith.

Mr Smith referred to his own notes from the last court hearing and argued that District Judge Roger Elsey had ruled out a custodial sentence at that time.

However, this information had not been noted on the court file, so the case was adjourned by the bench to be heard by Judge Elsey when he next sits.

Hardy, now of Somerset Cottages, Silksworth, had previously admitted theft, on the basis of the total amount being £10,441.

He stated he was hoping to keep the job with the brewery and pay the money back from his wages

Lee Poppett, prosecuting

He left court wearing a mask and appearing to be giving the thumbs-up.

Prosecutor Lee Poppett said: “Mr Hardy was previously employed to run the Vesta Tilley’s public house located just around the corner.

“The witness in this case is Mr Storey, the area manager of Amber Breweries, who has responsibility over-all for Vesta Tilleys, along with a number of public houses.”

The court heard the agreement was that Amber Taverns would pay Hardy a percentage based on weekly sales so he could pay staff and himself.

Vesta Tilley's former manager Mark Hardy

Vesta Tilley's former manager Mark Hardy

Mr Poppett said: “In late June, Mr Storey had raised concerns about banking the takings on a number of occasions.

“Mr Hardy has told Mr Storey he was subject to a number of debts he was struggling to pay.

“Due to these concerns, there was a requirement to provide proof of all of the banking receipts.

“On October 24, Mr Storey received a text from Mr Hardy, informing him that he was away taking some leave at Haggerston Castle and that he could send a picture of the receipt.

“He did indeed receive a picture of a receipt for in excess of £7,000 but it was very blurry.

“Mr Storey was somewhat concerned and contacted the bank to ensure the amount of £7,000 had been banked.

“He was told no such deposit had been made.”

The weekend’s takings of £7,259.24 had gone missing, as well as the float of £2,000, some previous takings of £1,182 and Hardy’s weekly wage of £1,500.

In his police interview, Hardy explained he had taken the money to pay loan sharks.

“He said he was in financial difficulty and in his own words he was robbing Peter to pay Paul.

“He stated he had taken about £10,000 and explained he didn’t agree with the £12,000 as that included his wages for the week.

“He stated he was hoping to keep the job with the brewery and pay the money back from his wages.”

Mr Poppett added: “This is a breach to a high degree of trust.”

The court heard on a previous occasion that Hardy had lost his job as a result of his dishonesty, and had been turfed out of the accommodation included with the job.