A 49-year-old security manager who escaped being jailed for stealing almost £15,000 from Dunnes Stores has been given six months to pay them back or face a year in jail.
Judge Donna McColgan QC, sitting in Antrim, said while those who steal from employers could expect an inevitable jail term, at times justice had to be seen to be merciful, and in the unique and peculiar circumstances of John Bibby’s case she was prepared to suspend his nine-month sentence for two years.
The Crown Court judge said that pre-sentence reports on 49-year-old Bibby indicated that he plays a key role in the care of his teenage son and that if jailed it may compromise his programme of treatment.
Bibby, originally with an address in Mount Vernon flats on Belfast’s Shore Road, had pleaded guilty to a single charge of stealing £14,800 from Dunnes over a seven-month period between May and December 2008.
He worked as a security manager with the store who at the time were running a reward voucher scheme for customers.
Judge McColgan said that while Bibby had no direct contact with the cash room in the store, he was aware of how it worked.
Following an internal investigation into discrepancies, Bibby was pictured counting monies in the cash room, while at the same time taking vouchers from his coat pocket and placing them beside the cash.
“Essentially,” said Judge McColgan, “what he was doing was taking cash and replacing it with the vouchers”, and that he knew “precisely what he was doing”.
Bibby later claimed that at the time his prime motivation was to feed his gambling addiction and mounting debts. Judge McColgan said his defence lawyer Richard McConkey indicated within the next three months Bibby may be in a position to repay Dunnes the monies he had taken.
In the circumstances, the judge said she would make a compensation order for the full amount, to be paid within six months, with a year in jail for default. However, the judge added that if more time were needed the matter should be brought back before the court.