Chippenham pub boss walks free after admitting theft
A pub boss who ran off to Spain with the takings after falling for a customer has walked free from court.
Lee Plant plundered £6,500 from the safe at The Four Seasons in Chippenham over the Jubilee weekend and did a flit with his new love.
But the 27-year-old returned after the pair fell out and his, now former, boyfriend had left him, taking half the loot, the court was told.
Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court that Plant had been manager at the pub since February and was responsible for banking the money.
While there he struck up a relationship across the bar with one of the customers and they decided to head off to Spain.
Plant emptied the safe of the takings, which had been swollen as it was the double Bank Holiday for the Diamond Jubilee, before they went.
On the night of Monday June 4 the boss told a colleague at the pub that he had to leave to attend an emergency.
The following day the area manager learned Plant had disappeared and tried to contact him, before opening the safe and finding the money missing.
The thief was tracked down a few weeks later when he revealed he had been dumped and claimed the other man had gone with all the money.
He only managed to get back home after his brother paid out for a plane ticket to get him out of Spain.
When he was questioned by the police he accepted the other man had left him taking only half the money.
Plant, now of Milton Keynes, pleaded guilty to a charge of theft.
Ann Ellery, defending, said she accepted that her client had been in a high degree of trust but pointed out he had never been in trouble with the police before.
"It was foolish made worse perhaps by this infatuation. He made a full confession to the area manager by text before he got back to England," she said.
She said he was now working at a pub in Milton Keynes where his board and lodgings are provided leaving him with at least £120 a week pay.
At the time of the offence she said he had been drinking too much and taking drugs, which he has stopped doing, and does not put forward as an excuse for what he did.
Passing sentence Recorder Nicholas Hall said: "As has been explained, the law takes a seriously dim view of employees taking advantage of positions of trust, particularly where banking and trust are involved.
"I am prepared to accept that was an episode of spontaneous offending: there is no rational explanation for what you did.
"I am prepared to accept the decisions you made were influenced by drink, drugs and your infatuation with a customer."
He jailed him for 36 weeks suspended for 18 months and told him to do 120 hours of community service and pay £2,500 compensation.