A ‘TRUSTED’ woman developed a ‘compulsion to gamble’ which led her to steal scratch cards worth more than £1,000 from her employer.
Denise Harrod, of Barnabas Walk, Honeywell, was found guilty of theft at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court on Monday and returned a day later where she was given a community order consisting of 100 hours of unpaid work.
The 54-year-old had appeared at this same court in May charged with theft – where she pleaded not guilty – as she attributed her actions to the medication that she was taking to treat restless leg syndrome.
Harrod was dismissed from her job at Budgens on Barnsley Road, Dodworth, after she was caught on CCTV taking scratch cards from the dispenser on numerous occasions over a four-week period.
District Judge Joanne Harris was told that when she was called into a meeting with the director of Ford News Limited, which owns Budgens, and store manager Andrew Thompson, Harrod admitted to taking the scratch cards for up to 18 months prior to being caught on camera.
She would dispose of the cards by putting them in her pocket, her bag or by throwing them in the bin.
She was dismissed immediately following this, after working for Ford News for seven years.
In a statement read out in court, director Ron Ford stated that Harrod was a ‘trusted member of staff’ and the scratch cards she had taken cost the company £1,227.
When she was arrested, her house was searched and several cash deposit receipts were found in a drawer in her bedroom.
Harrod’s solicitor, Chris Peace, argued that a side effect of the drug she was taking for her restless leg syndrome – pramipexole – had an unusual side effect which causes ‘strong urges’ to gamble.
According to the British National Formulary (BNF), pramipexole can cause you to develop an impulse control disorder, including pathological gambling, binge eating and hypersexuality.
In addition to stealing the scratch cards, Harrod was also betting on the Irish lottery, hiding her spiralling finances from her partner, which resulted in an increase in her stealing the cards.
District Judge Hirst said: “These are very unusual circumstances and your actions have been deemed completely out of character. I am satisfied that it did not force you to be dishonest.
“Stealing from an employer is a big breach of trust and your actions to be dishonest was with intent. You covered your tracks and didn’t care because you thought you were getting away with it.
“However I understand that this is against your character and your actions were sudden although over a long period of time.”
Harrod was also told to pay £500 in compensation to her former employer.