Published: 12:00, 20 January 2016
A supermarket manager who stole more than £11,000 from his employers to finance his drug habit has escaped immediate custody.
Robert Scott was told he grossly abused the trust placed in him because of his cocaine addiction.
But a judge took an exceptional course and suspended 12 months imprisonment for two years and 150 hours unpaid work.
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He was also ordered to pay £3,600 compensation at the rate of £120 a month.
Scott, of Dunnett Road, Folkestone, took the cash while an assistant manager with Aldi in Hythe and Maidstone between June 13 and November 1, 2012.
Maidstone Crown Court heard the 38-year-old father stole cash he should have banked. A total of £4,000 was taken from the Hythe branch and £3,500 from the Maidstone shop.
VIDEO: Aldi manager stole £11,000 to fund his cocaine habit. David Gazet reports
“It was a weakness in the banking method that allowed the theft to take place,” said prosecutor David Brook. “There was an inevitability of getting caught at some stage.”
"You grossly abused the trust for one principal reason, namely that you developed a cocaine habit" - Judge Jeremy Carey
Scott also collected various items in the store and, using an assistant’s till, obtained refunds. He stole £2,796 by this method.
Mr Brook said Scott later wrote a letter to his bosses accepting he took money, claiming he did so because he had an unwell son.
He later admitted it was a lie and had said it hoping to receive sympathy.
Craig Evans, defending, said Scott, who admitted two offences of theft and one of false accounting, worked for the company for about five years and wanted to “kick on” and become a store manager.
“They are generous when it comes to salaries when reaching that position,” he said. “The intention was to show he could run the store to an immaculate standard.”
He moved to the Maidstone store and worked long hours.
“He took cocaine to keep himself awake,” said Mr Evans. “Perhaps ambition got the better of him and he fell into that trap. It was a habit he could ill-afford.”
Judge Jeremy Carey said: “That is not persuasive of anything, apart from the fact your client had a thoroughly warped view of his responsibilities.
“To take cocaine in order to stay awake is about as nonsensical a thing anyone can do.”
Judge Carey told Scott: “You grossly abused the trust for one principal reason, namely that you developed a cocaine habit.
“You are fooling yourself if you are convincing yourself it was for a positive reason - to do your job better. You needed it, craved it and wanted it.
“The bottom line is you were out of control at this time, feeding your habit by stealing from your employers.”
The judge added: “You could have absolutely no complaint if sent to prison for this serious offending. Those who steal substantial sums of money, as you did, will go straight to prison.
“I don’t take that course today for one reason. There has been a considerable delay in your case. You have had this matter hanging over you for a substantial time.
“You have kept out of trouble and worked hard to support your family. This can be regarded as criminality you have put behind you.”