HOTEL staff watched in disbelief as a drunken former employee walked in off the street and gobbled someone’s wedding cake.
Stuart Mead appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates Court accused of a string of charges, including faking his CV to get a job as caretaker of Hayling Island Community Centre.
Without revealing that he had been sacked from the Newtown House Hotel, Hayling for theft in 2011, Mead went on to become a trusted member of staff at the community centre, in Station Road.
But money started going missing and manager Tanya Jones soon realised the alcoholic 44-year-old was to blame.
Mead admitted to District Judge Ann Arnold on Wednesday that on separate occasions last month he had siphoned off cash from a bottle containing an unknown quantity of £1 coins, taken a further £120 in cash and faked a good reference to get the job in the first place.
He also admitted even more bizarre behaviour – drunkenly strolling in to the Newtown House Hotel and stealing half a dozen bottles of wine and eating someone’s wedding cake on September 21. The court heard how Mead, a father, had struggled with alcohol misuse and was £30,000 in debt.
He was already under a community order for theft from the hotel and failing to provide a specimen for analysis when his latest crime spree took place. His solicitor Rhys Evans told the court Mead now lives with his parents, in Manor Road, Hayling, and ‘feels he has brought shame on his family and children’.
Mr Evans added: ‘His biggest problem is alcohol. When he stops drinking he is an articulate, well-reasoned man.
‘When he drinks he is the type of man who staggers into a hotel and helps himself to someone’s wedding cake.’
Mead was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for a year.
He must also undergo an alcohol rehabilitation and thinking skills course.
No order for costs or compensation was made because of Mead’s financial situation.
Tanya Jones, manager of the community centre, said: ‘We were devastated.
‘We work very hard here to raise money just to keep the facility open.
‘Lots of volunteers work here.
‘He stole from a charity.’