Temporary pub cleaner stole debit card and spent over £400 before she ‘couldn’t live with shame’

Ballymena Court

A TEMPORARY cleaner working in a Ballymena pub stole a debit card and used it to make ‘contactless’ purchases totalling over £400 before she “couldn’t live with the shame it brought to her door” and then admitted what she done to the owners before the police spoke to her.

Stephanie Mitchell (33), of Carniny Court in the town, took the card from an upstairs area at The Moat Bar, a court heard.

She pleaded guilty to stealing a debit card and a second charge of fraud by false representation by using it in May and June last year.

A prosecutor sad a number of transactions were noted on the business account and it emerged the card had been taken from a part of the bar where only the owners and Mitchell, who was working as a temporary cleaner, had access to.

The lawyer said Mitchell had contacted the card owner and had apologised before police spoke to her when she made full admissions to spending £422 on the card.

Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine told Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday the defendant “couldn’t live with herself” and her “conscience got the better of her” before she sent a text message to the card owner saying what she had done.

The lawyer said the defendant “couldn’t live with the shame it brought to her to door” and when police spoke to her there was a “sense of relief”.

Mr Ballentine said the incident happened at a time when the defendant had debts to pay and was “very vulnerable and weak” and had used the card for “essential goods” for herself.

He said the defendant was remorseful.

The court heard the defendant had a previous similar conviction which Mr Ballentine said happened when Mitchell took money she believed she was owed in connection with work.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was the second time the defendant had been convicted for a “breach of trust”.

He said it was a serious matter and added that when someone is employed as a cleaner they are not expected to steal.

Ordering the defendant to pay compensation of £422 the judge handed down a six months prison term, suspended for a year.

He warned Mitchell that if she commits a similar offence again she will be jailed.

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