Eagle-eyed Specsavers bosses used covert cameras to catch an employee stealing cash, a judge has heard.
Antrim Crown Court Judge Desmond Marrinan also heard that while he admitted he stole £656, 26-year-old Lance Agnew has already paid the money back.
Ordering the Larne man to serve 100 hours of community service, the judge told Agnew it was “very sad to see a young man of good character lose that good character by appearing in court, never mind the Crown Court”.
At an earlier hearing Agnew, from Loran Glen in the harbour town, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of theft committed on dates between October 2016 and February last year.
Prosecuting lawyer Tessa Kitson told the court the thefts, made up of multiple small amounts, were uncovered after the “powers that be” in the Specsavers Larne branch became suspicious that money was going missing.
“In fact what they did was to install CCTV, covert cameras inside the premises and on a number of occasions, saw the defendant taking money which was deposits for glasses and instead of putting it where he was supposed to, he put it in his pocket,” explained the lawyer.
Agnew was “summarily dismissed” from his job following an internal inquiry and during later interviews with the police, Agnew claimed he “would’ve put the money back later” but eventually admitted the thefts when the case came to court.
Mrs Kitson highlighted the only aggravating feature was that Agnew was a “trusted employee” and as such, was the only staff member authorised and trained to handle cash.
Defence lawyer Mark Farrell said the offences represented a “tragic stain on this man’s character” and behaviour of which he was “deeply ashamed”.
Judge Marrinan told the thief given the fact he was the only one in the store allowed to handle cash, “it was inevitable as night follows day that it would’ve been traced eventually”.
The judge said the 100 hours of unpaid work “has the advantage of you repaying to society, of making good in a real sense, what you did wrong”.