Gambling addiction sparked e-cig scam


A father-of-three who was addicted to gambling stole £21,000 from his employers - by faking e-cigarette sales.

Preston Crown Court was told Steven Harker, 26, of Cambden Road, Layton, began stealing from the McColl’s store on Egerton Road in Blackpool to fund his betting shop habits.

Prosecuting, David Temkin said between January and March this year he made more than 1,000 transactions for e-cigarette starter kit sales at the store, using PIN numbers in the till that he had memorised from his colleagues.

He said: “This case concerns a theft over a period of time from his employers.

“The method involved e-cigarette starter kits and enquiries showed that 1,061 transactions had been made. The transactions totalled £21,029.

“The defendant was arrested and made admissions, explaining he had gambling habits.”

The court was told Harker would go straight from work to the bookmakers with the stolen cash.

A probation report said he intended to pay it back with his winnings but it never happened.

Since he was sacked he has continued to gamble once a week and has not sought help for his addiction.

The court heard Harker has 12 previous convictions, some for matters of dishonesty.

Defending, Paul Humphries said: “He wasn’t thinking properly at the time.

“His family were unaware he had a problem. He very much regrets what he has done and wishes he could turn back the clock.”

The judge...

Judge Alan Conrad QC imposed an eight month jail term, suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid work and a 40 day rehabilitation requirement.

He was also given a four month tagged curfew.