A car park attendant operated a ticketing scam to pocket up to 70 customer payments because he was bored and lonely, a court has heard.
Paul Tait, 19, was given 150 hours community service after admitting the fraud against his employers at McCausland in Belfast city centre.
Prosecutors said it was unclear how much money had been taken during the six months he worked at the car park on Grosvenor Street.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court was told police were contacted in October last year after cancelled payments were noticed on the system.
CCTV checks carried out by a manager revealed Tait, of Glenwherry Place in the city, had been on duty and dealing with customers.
Part of the scam involved generating an invalid ticket on the computer to falsify car parking records.
Investigations also uncovered other cash transactions where Tait manually lifted the car park barrier for customers before putting their cash in his wallet.
A Crown lawyer said the relevant CCTV recordings only go back as far as last September.
“Managers have worked out that there are around 70 occasions from September where Mr Tait has fraudulently obtained money for himself,” she told the court.
Police and bosses at the car park were also unable to establish when he first started taking the money.
Tait pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud by false representation between September 10 and October 1, 2017.
Referring to the admissions he made in interview, the prosecutor added: “He stated that he was experiencing a period of depression at the time, and that subsequent loneliness and boredom of the job led him to discover he could commit this fraud.
“He stated that it was just money to subsidise his low income.”
Tait also expressed remorse and said he was willing to pay the money back to the company.
District Judge Fiona Bagnall described it as a breach of trust case which passed the threshold for custody.
But based on Tait’s early plea of guilt and lack of record, she instead imposed the community service order.