A FAMILY business closed down after a young employee stole £20,000 from the till to spend on computer games and nights out.

Wisaitus Changtong stashed bundles of notes in his pockets each week after accepting a Saturday job with Tuckton News.

As a result of the thefts, the 20-year-old's "betrayed" employers - Jim Guntrip, wife Diann and daughter Laura - were forced to close the business in Tuckton Road, Bournemouth. The shop quickly reopened under new ownership.

Changtong, of Surrey Road, has now admitted four counts of theft by employee. The charges cover the theft of both the money and a supply of cigarettes.

However, the defendant's sentence has been deferred for six months to ensure he saves as much as possible to compensate the Guntrips.

Prosecuting at Bournemouth Crown Court, James Kellam said Changtong was "trusted" by the family. He worked at the shop for around a year, with the thefts taking place between January and December 2015.

However, when Laura Guntrip took over the running of the business, she noticed a discrepancy between the takings and the banking invoices. After searching through CCTV footage, she realised Changtong was taking handfuls of notes from the till when he worked.

He disguised the thefts by recording them as 'cash drops', but failed to bank the money.

"He was stealing bundles of cash," Mr Kellam said.

"The estimated loss is around £20,000."

Describing the effects of the thefts on the small business, the prosecutor said: "Bluntly, [the offences] closed it."

The family later told police of the "quite devastating breach of trust". Mr Guntrip was running the shop to fund his retirement, the court heard.

"When [Changtong] applied for British citizenship, Mrs Guntrip was a referee for him," Mr Kellam said.

"The sense of betrayal is quite palpable."

Before Tom Acworth began his mitigation for the defendant, Judge Brian Forster QC said: "£20,000 works out at around £400 per week.

"That's a lot of money to be taking."

Mr Acworth said police initially believed Changtong had taken somewhere in the region of £15,000 over the course of the year. However, the defendant himself corrected them and said the true figure was likely to be between £20,000 and £25,000, it was heard.

"He worked on Saturdays and would take £400 to £600," the barrister said.

"He spent it on luxury goods such as computers, computer games and going out. That's what the money was for."

Mr Acworth said the defendant was "notably frank" when questioned by police.

"He accepts his motivation was greed," he said.

"He had some social difficulties growing up. No thought was given for the ultimate consequences."

Since the thefts were discovered, Changtong has been saving to compensate the Guntrips, it was heard. He works for 22 hours a week in an e-cigarette shop.

Judge Forster said he had "great concern" for the victims, and deferred Changtong's sentence.

"I want to give him the opportunity to set aside as much compensation as possible," he said.

Talking directly to Changtong, Judge Forster said: "What you did was truly shocking."

He ordered Changtong to work with police to sell his computer games.

"If the defendant assists in selling the games, he will do much better than the police are going to be able to [in getting a good price]," the judge said.

"That will be in the interests of the victims."