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Norfolk landlord did a runner with pub cash

PUBLISHED: 07:26 12 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:24 01 July 2010

The White Hart in Hingham

The White Hart in Hingham

Mary Hamilton

A Norfolk pub landlord took £5,000 from his pub's safe and ran away, a court heard yesterday.

Thomas Southworth, 42, took the money from the White Hart in Hingham, which he had been running with his partner.

A Norfolk pub landlord took £5,000 from his pub's safe and ran away, a court heard yesterday.

On December 27 last year Thomas Southworth, 42, took the money from the White Hart in Hingham, which he had been running with his partner for a few months, Norwich Crown Court was told.

Malcolm Robbins, prosecuting, said Southworth said he was going out to buy vegetables from a local Sainsbury's, but did not come back.

His partner reported him missing and discovered around £5,000 was missing from the pub's safe - the takings from the previous Christmas week.

Southworth would have received around half of this as wages, but took £2779.23 to which he was not entitled.

He eventually handed himself in to police in Birmingham on January 6 after spending more than a week moving around Bury St Edmunds, London and elsewhere in the country.

He paid back £1202.92 that he had not yet spent and handed over computer equipment that he had bought with the cash.

Mr Robbins said: “When he was interviewed by police Southworth said he was not earning the money he was expecting to earn in the pub, and that he blamed the pub's owner.

“He said, 'I just saw red and took the money. I wanted to rip him off the way he ripped me off.'”

Mitigating, Jonathan Dunne said: “The pay structure that the defendant and his partner agreed to was that they would take a quarter of the takings of the pub but that they would have to pay the staff out of their share.

“When they came to run the place they found staff were on fixed contracts that could not be altered that left them with a wage well below what they had expected.

“He realised that they would be paying their staff double time for Christmas shifts and that despite all the hours he had worked Southworth would be walking away with nothing.

“He believes that he broke down at that point and did a runner with the safe contents.”

He added that Southworth had already saved up £800 towards repaying the money.

Judge Simon Barham said: “This is a serious offence because it is a breach of trust, but it seems you were motivated by frustration.”

Southworth, who is currently living at Suffolk Sands Holiday Park, Felixstowe, pleaded guilty to theft at Norwich Crown Court.

He was sentenced yesterday to 12 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months and must do 100 hours unpaid work.

He must also pay back £800 of the money he took within 14 days, and the remaining £766.27 in instalments.

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