Pub takings stolen to pay for cocaine

THE former manager of a Stevenage pub stole the takings to fund a £1,200 a week cocaine habit, a court heard. David Lee, 31, was running the Old Red Lion pub in Shephall for four months last year when £16,523 went missing, prosecutor Harry Bowyer told Lut

THE former manager of a Stevenage pub stole the takings to fund a £1,200 a week cocaine habit, a court heard.

David Lee, 31, was running the Old Red Lion pub in Shephall for four months last year when £16,523 went missing, prosecutor Harry Bowyer told Luton Crown Court.

When confronted he confessed to his expensive drug habit and sought help to overcome it. But yesterday (Wednesday), despite turning his life around, he was jailed for nine months.

Lee, who went to live with his sister in Sudbury, pleaded guilty to the charge of theft.


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Mr Bowyer said Lee became landlord of the Greene King pub in February last year but by May it had become obvious that some money was not being banked. An audit was carried out and the shortfall discovered. Lee was given a chance to repay it before police arrested him in August.

Christopher Amor, defending, said: "He sought help himself for his cocaine addiction and has been drug free since last October and is working hard as a pub chef and trying to sort out his debts. He has got his act together and is now a model citizen.

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"He could be treated as the exception to the rule and be given a suspended sentence."

Mr Amor said the irony was that if he still had a drug problem he could have received a drug treatment order as an alternative to a custodial sentence.

But Judge Barbara Mensah told Lee: "You were in a senior position and were entrusted with large amounts of money. You were only there a few months but stole a large amount of money and you have made no attempt to pay any of that off.

"To do anything other than send you immediately to prison would send out a totally wrong message that people who steal from their employers can get away with it.

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