Thorpe pub manager stole takings

Matthew SparkesThe manager of a busy pub siphoned off thousands of pounds in takings to help pay for bills run up by his girlfriend, a court has heard.Matthew Sparkes

The manager of a busy pub siphoned off thousands of pounds in takings to help pay for bills run up by his girlfriend, a court has heard.

Gavin Tapping took �4,400 from the Coach and Horses on Thorpe Road after finding himself in money trouble.

Despite the thefts, which were carried out on at least seven separate occasions during an eight-month period, the 29-year-old escaped a prison sentence when he appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court yesterday to admit the charges.

The court heard that Tapping was earning just �260 per week running the pub and was struggling to support his girlfriend, who was not working.

Debbie Saunders, in mitigation, said that she 'didn't contribute to anything' and that Tapping was left footing the bills.

Miss Saunders explained that Tapping's girlfriend had also run up large phone bills which he felt obliged to pay off.

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It was this pressure that made him cream-off money while paying in takings at the bank on seven separate occasions, the court heard.

'He saw an opportunity while banking the money and thought he'd borrow some of the takings, with the intention of putting the money back when he could afford it,' said Miss Saunders.

'However, that day never came.'

Tapping pleaded guilty to seven charges of theft from Chalkhill Inns, the company that owns the pub, running from November 2008 to June 2009.

Oliver Haswell, prosecuting, said that accountants looking over the books had become suspicious about the missing money and 'put two and two together'.

Tapping's signatures were also found on paying-in slips and he owned up to his bosses when asked about it.

Chair of the magistrates, Mary Daykin, sentenced Tapping to 18 weeks in prison suspended for a year and 100 hours of unpaid work.

She also ordered that the money should be paid back in full and that it should be deducted from his benefits as he was currently unemployed.

'This is a serious breach of trust. It was made worse by the fact that you did it over a long period of time,' said Mrs Daykin.

'We don't want to see you in court again.'

The court heard that Tapping had not been able to find work since being fired over the incident and has since moved back to Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire to be near his family.

The unpaid work will be carried out in his local area.

Nobody from Chalkhill Inns was available to comment yesterday.