A gambling addict stole more than £7,000 from his boss – and blew most of it on a bookmaker’s roulette gaming in less than a day.
Shopworker Richard MacPhee was supposed to bank the week’s takings of £7,295.
But instead he kept it, and the following day went into a William Hill betting shop with all the bank notes and fed the gaming machine until it was all gone.
MacPhee was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work at Inverness Sheriff Court yesterday after admitting stealing the cash.
His agent, solicitor Chris Munro, and shop owner James Earley, criticised the betting chain for “a lack of responsibility” and abandoning its “duty of care for their customers” to gamble responsibly.
Mr Earley, 65, whose Crown Stores newsagent business is now in jeopardy, said : “I have lost out big style. But William Hill have benefited from crime and they should pay it back to me.
“It was an abuse of their duty of care as a business to their customers and a gross breach of trust by Richie. My wife and I were on holiday at the time in Lanzarote and had to cut it short to come home when we were told what had happened.
“All that was left was £1,000 in change.”
Mr Munro said that MacPhee, 39, of Flat 46, High Street, Clachnaharry, Inverness, had repaid £3,295 so far.
He also criticised William Hill for allowing his client’s gambling on the day – July 11 – to get out of control.
He said: “He accepts he is responsible for his own actions. But he is a gambling addict and people in Scotland lose £300 a day on these machines. Something has to be done.
“William Hill shouldn’t have let it get that far. They get a warning when a customer spends more than £250.
“He spent £6,500 in a day and one of their staff was watching him. The staff should have intervened and stopped him.
“Even the owner of the machine phoned the betting shop to query the amount being spent by him on that day. He is repaying the money and hopes to pay off the balance at £500 every six months because he is on a low income.
“He is also addressing his habit and is attending Gamblers Anonymous.”
Sheriff Margaret Neilson said: “It was he who committed the crime and there is nothing I can do about William Hill.”
She then decided not to jail MacPhee because his wife was ill and he had promised to repay all the money.
But she warned him: “It is a very serious offence. You stole a significant amount of money from a small business and now it has been jeopardised substantially.
“I have noted the undertaking that you will repay all the money. If you do not and this community payback order is breached, then you will go to prison.”