Pub manager steals £42,000 from company

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A FORMER assistant manager of Fareham’s Harvester restaurant has been jailed for 14 months after admitting stealing more than £40,000.

Joseph Lane pleaded guilty to one count of fraud where he managed to get £42,220 between March and November last year by exploiting a loophole in the technology of the card payment machines.

He was living above and working at The Buccaneer in The Avenue, when he began using ‘forced sales’ to issue himself money as cashback.

The 26-year-old, of Fir Copse in Purbrook, discovered that when a bank card was put into the payment handset, the need to put in a pin number could be bypassed and could instead be signed for.

As a result, the machine would not need to request the funds from the bank.

Daniel Sawyer prosecuting said: ‘He had no funds in his account so he would put the transaction to cash, sometimes a few tens, sometimes up to £2,000, and then take the cash from the till.

‘Everything looks above board until the bank contacts the pub and says this man has no funds so they’re not honouring it.’

Lane was suspended in July, but at his sentencing in Portsmouth Crown Court, the court heard how he then started visiting other branches to try the scam, using his staff ID.

Among those he visited were Port Solent, Watford, Brighton and Littlehampton.

Daniel Reilly, defending, said his client began the fraud to try to cover up thefts by another member of staff, so he could prove he was running a successful branch.

But once he was suspended he continued doing it to pay his household bills.

Mr Sawyer produced a witness statement from Lane’s manager that he was suspended on full pay.

Mr Reilly said: ‘He recognises he has let down not only those he worked with but also his family.’

Judge Ian Pearson said: ‘This was calculated dishonesty over a period of many weeks and on many occasions.

‘And amazingly it continued even after you had been suspended and found out.’

There was no order for costs or compensation.