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A SHOP assistant has been found guilty of fraudulently refunding purchases and pocketing the money.

Alexander Marlo Schlebusch, 28, from Northmore Road, Park Gate, was given a suspended jail sentence at Fareham Magistrates’ Court.

Schlebusch worked at Currys in Titchfield Common and carried out nine fraudulent refunds totalling £1,699.96.

Schlebusch denied nine charges of fraud but was found guilty by magistrates at an earlier hearing.

He was caught after a store investigation found that the customers that Schlebusch had apparently refunded did not have any knowledge of a refund taking place.

On investigation, Currys found that Schlebusch had processed six refunds to gift cards, which he later used to purchase goods in other stores.

He also processed three refunds to his credit card, the last transaction totalling £359.99.

The offences were committed over 11 months, with the first transaction of £60 taking place on July 30, 2011 and the last, a refund of £359.99m in June 2012.

Prosecutor Noel Watkins said: ‘This was a significant breach of trust.’

The fraud was described as being a ‘well-planned and sophisticated’ operation by the Chairwoman of the Magistrates Patricia Owen. Schlebusch said that he ‘didn’t think it was planned.’

When asked by the chairwoman what he had spent the money on, Schlebusch said that Currys had not lost any money as he had spent the vouchers in the store.

He said: ‘Currys didn’t suffer any loss.

‘I’m a family man with two kids. Currys didn’t actually lose that money. The money went on to store gift cards which I spent in Currys again.’

Chairwoman of the Magistrates Patricia Owen said: ‘It was an aggravated theft. It was a breach of trust, very well planned and sophisticated, and over a period of time, so for that we will give you a custodial sentence.’

Schlebusch was sentenced to 42 days in prison, suspended for one year.

He was ordered to carry out 120 hours community service.

Schlebusch, who is in full-time employment, was allowed by the magistrates’ to complete the unpaid community work at the weekend.

The court took into consideration that Schlebusch had an outstanding warrant of £390 and ordered him to pay £250 towards the Crown Prosecution service, instead of the recommended £600.

Schlebusch did not have to pay a victim surcharge as the offences were committed before the date the surcharge was introduced.