Gambling addict who stole from hotel is jailed

7:00pm Monday 23rd June 2008

By Julie Magee

A CONVICTED thief who stole money from the Bournemouth hotel where she worked to fund her gambling habit has been jailed for 16 months.

Divorcee Sarah Thorne, 34, applied for the job of reception manager at the Cumberland hotel just 12 days after receiving a suspended prison sentence at Reading Crown Court for stealing nearly £15,000 from her previous employers.

Prosecuting at Bournemouth Crown Court, Stuart Ellacott said Thorne had started working at the East Cliff hotel on September 3 last year.

He added: "On her application form she failed to disclose the offence recorded against her."

After returning from holiday in Egypt in December, Thorne told staff her mother had died. "She had a further two weeks off, was paid £238 bereavement benefit and a sympathy card was sent to her," said Mr Ellacott.

In February this year a friend, who had agreed to let Thorne have her salary paid into her bank account, alerted the hotel after discovering four extra payments totalling £1,140.

Mr Ellacott said: "Miss Thorne claimed that she had started gambling again and accepted having been to the bookmakers and race meetings, betting at least £100 a race and in excess of £700 a day."

Thorne, who had been in custody following her arrest, admitted six fraud charges and asked the court to take into account four similar offences.

In her defence, the court was told that Thorne felt genuine remorse and was ashamed of her actions. She suffered from "a dreadful gambling addiction" and had not led a luxurious lifestyle.

Sentencing Thorne, Recorder Ivor Weintroub said: "Through dishonesty, by omission, you secured a very responsible position at a prominent hotel in Bournemouth.

"Breaching that trust, you then took monies from customers. I bear in mind that you have succumbed to the evil of gambling. For those who become hooked it is a very costly, dangerous pastime. It has lost you your reputation."

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