A co-op store manager in a Chester village cheated on the company for more than £ 20,000 to fund his gambling addiction.

David Robert Knight, 36, of Estone Place, Ashton, Chester, had previously pleaded guilty to defrauding the Tarporley cooperative between September 2019 and June 2020 and stealing £ 21,000.

Knight appeared at Chester Crown Court on Friday, February 12, and was given a 14 month suspended sentence.

Accusingly, Jemma Gordon said the co-op area manager became aware of a number of high-quality refunds in the store on the High Street in late May 2020.

An in-store video surveillance review took place and it was discovered that Knight was processing fictitious refunds through the checkout with no customers present.

A full investigation revealed that Knight had processed counterfeit Paysafe vouchers and made the money by posting them as sales.

He had also entered information into the system that the safe contained more money than they actually had.

Other employees were not aware of the inconsistencies.

When interviewed by co-op managers, Knight admitted the crimes and announced his resignation.

The police were informed, and Knight announced in full that he had committed the fraud because of his gambling addiction and depression.

He had no previous beliefs, just a 2001 warning of cannabis possession.

Defense attorney Adam Antoszkiw said the defendant was otherwise of good character and helped with the investigation.

He had lost his marriage, home, and career in recent years and been declared bankrupt.

He had a remorse and lost his job at the cooperative, where he had worked for 19 years and made his way to become the manager.

His gambling addiction was “out of control”.

Mr. Antoszkiw added that catching Knight was “almost a weight off his shoulders” as he realized he had a problem and took it upon himself to seek help from the GamCare charity.

Knight’s personal circumstances had improved, and he had a new relationship with a woman who worked full-time and was in control of the finances.

Recorder David O’Mahony noted that Knight slept in his car or surfed on the sofa after losing his home because he was unable to keep up with mortgage payments due to gambling addiction.

Due to the defendant’s repentance, good character and willingness to work on probation, the judge ruled that a prison sentence could be suspended.

Knight’s 14-month sentence is suspended for two years. During this time he has to complete 20 days of rehabilitation and 200 hours of unpaid work as well as a sacrifice allowance.