Edward Coughlin, a 33-year-old from Bootle, has been jailed for two years, for stealing £50,000 from Asda. Coughlin ran the Goose Green branch in Wigan, and used a surprisingly low-tech approach to syphon off an incredible amount of money.
Coughlin had been coming into the store early to empty the self-scan machines. He would take some of the money, and then doctor the rest of the cash by inserting pieces of paper into bundles of notes, before storing them in the store's safe.
The Liverpool Echo reported that he was working with 34-year-old chief cashier Deborah Croft from Wigan, whose job required her to check the contents of the safe using an electronic cash counting machine. She would override the machine to make it look as though the correct money was there, and take it to the bank. She then manipulated computer records to cover the dishonesty.
The plan was foiled by a fellow employee, who spotted the doctored cash bundles in the safe. She reported it to Coughlin, who told her to sign the check sheet to say it was all normal, and that he would get the senior cashier, Croft, to check. Croft later told the employee that everything was normal, but she smelled a rat and reported them. An area manager came to the store and Croft confessed.
According to The Mirror, Croft said the pair had been in a secret relationship and Coughlin had pushed her to help him with the thefts. The judge said: "You ensnared her (Croft) and corrupted her into your wrongdoing. She overrode her natural sense of decency and honesty." She was sentenced to eight months - suspended for 18 months - reflecting the fact that she didn't profit from the scheme, and had lost her career as a result of it.
Coughlin said he had been taking the money for nine months because of gambling debts, but said he was married and that he and Croft were not having an affair.
It's always shocking when someone in a position of trust uses it for their own gain, but it's not the first time that gambling debts have forced someone to commit a crime like this. An estimated 350,000 people in the UK have a gambling problem of some description, and every year several people are jailed because they turn to crime to fund it.
We reported in March on the Cambridge University clerk who had stolen more than £285,000 from the college to pay for her addiction to an online bingo and fruit machine site.
Earlier that month a former serviceman was sentenced to 16 months by Durham Crown Court, after he admitted stealing £30,000 from customers while working for a security firm - to fund his gambling addiction.
And back in February a gambling addict from Bradford was jailed for two years after stealing £230,000 from his employer to fund his gambling addiction.
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