Stole lotto winnings to pay gambling debt

The deputy manager of a supermarket stole £4,500 of lottery winnings from colleagues to help pay off a £30,000 gambling debt.

Susan Meakin, 42, of Wellington Street, Eastwood, stole the Euromillions cash from a syndicate at Sainsbury’s in Stoney Street, Beeston, last December.

The group of 72 staff matched four numbers and two lucky stars in the December 21 draw, winning £4,550.60.

A cheque for the winnings was presented to Meakin in her name. She kept news of the win quiet, cashed the cheque in her own account and didn’t pay staff their share.

Meakin also admitted stealing £300 which was left by a customer at a self-service till on February 1.

Syma Akhtar told Nottingham Magistrates’ Court that Meakin took £500 from the winnings and paid in the rest at Beeston Post Office three days after the lottery win.

Her crime came to light after she told another member of staff about the win.

The court heard that Meakin was dismissed from Sainsbury’s in February for the theft.

In mitigation, Maria Bines said Meakin had been struggling with a gambling addiction and had racked up debts of £30,000 through online gambling sites as well as high street arcades.

She said: “She started gambling following the death of her father as a way of escaping.

“She started to take out loans and credit cards to pay her debts, and then took out payday loans just to pay off the debts that were accruing.

“She was of good character and worked hard all her life.”

Ms Bines said there wasn’t a formal syndicate at work, but staff liked the idea of winning a fortune. The prospect of winning £83 million drew interest from staff.

She added: “It was mentioned around the lunch table and there were 72 people who were interested in taking part.”

Meakin had pleaded guilty to the thefts at a previous hearing and was given a suspended prison sentence of 12 weeks.

Magistrates told her she was in a “position of trust” at the store and was a senior member of the team.

They said she breached that trust when she decided to take the winnings, but took the fact she had no previous convictions into account when handing down the sentence.