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Gambler Steven Nicholls, 44, of High Street, Swanscombe, stole thousands from shop in John Street, Rochester

A shop assistant with a gambling habit stole thousands of pounds from his boss, a court heard.

Steven Nicholls, 44, had worked for Harjit Chahal for just over a year and a half and was considered a friend when he started pilfering from the takings.

Police were able to prove Nicholls took at least £2,200 from the takings at Mr Chahal’s Convenience Store in John Street, Rochester, by putting refunds on his debit card.

Steven Nicholls took the money to feed his gambling habit.
Steven Nicholls took the money to feed his gambling habit.

When Mr Chahal discovered money was missing he reported the matter to police. Nicholls, of High Street, Swanscombe, was arrested and admitted he’d been doing it to fund a gambling addiction he’d developed after the death of his father.

Nicholls appeared before magistrates in Medway where he pleaded guilty to fraud by position of trust.

James Nichols , prosecuting, said: “He was employed as an assistant at a shop in John Street.

“He put refunds on his own debit card to the value of £2,200 and fully admitted to police he did it because he had gambling addiction, after his father died.

Steven Nicholls.
Steven Nicholls.

“He has one other conviction, but not for dishonesty.”

Natalie Brown, defending, said her client was very sorry for what he had done.

She added: “He’s upset he breached the trust of a friend, who he had been friends with for about 15 or 16 years.

“He lost his job as a result and wants to make good what he’d done and is now a delivery driver for a take-away and will pay the money back.

“He is mortified the ties are now severed. He was not dealing with his grief, but it took a hold of him and he started gambling online and in his local area.

“He has now excluded himself from all betting venues and is getting support. He’s made a terrible mistake.”

“I felt betrayed. He was a friend I had known for at least 15 years" - Harjit Chahal

Magistrates jailed Nicholls for 26 weeks but because of his early guilty plea, the term was suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to pay Mr Chahal £2,200 compensation and £85 costs.

Chairman of the bench, Steven Binning, told him: “Do not break the law in any way whatsoever.”

Speaking after sentencing, Mr Chahal said: “I felt betrayed. He was a friend I had known for at least 15 years.

“He took a lot more than £2,200 and I can prove he took a lot more, around the £7,700 mark.

“It’s also despicable that he used his father’s death as an excuse, because he’s been gambling all his life.”

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