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Distress caused by burglary at hotel

PUBLISHED: 10:11 08 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:37 03 July 2010

A hotel worker who used a set of keys to steal more than £5,000 from her employer was pressured into the crime, a defence barrister said yesterday.

Tracy Branford, 41, of Waterloo Road, Norwich, broke into the Hotel Wroxham in the early hours of November 29.

A hotel worker who used a set of keys to steal more than £5,000 from her employer was pressured into the crime, a defence barrister said yesterday.

Tracy Branford, 41, of Waterloo Road, Norwich, broke into the Hotel Wroxham in the early hours of November 29. She had previously worked at the hotel as a systems controller and had access to and knowledge of the safes. At the time of the theft she was working for the sister George Hotel in Norwich.

Norwich Crown Court heard how security cameras were only partially operating at the time and she may have known this. However, one camera did capture her entering and leaving the building.

Prosecutor Stephen Poole said that as well as stealing the cash, £1,100 of which was later recovered, Branford also stole a coat and a recipe book signed by top chef Gary Rhodes.

In mitigation Michael Clare said the mother-of-one had been pressur-ised into committing the crime by a man whose identity she refused to reveal in open court. However, the man is currently serving a sentence in Norwich prison after admitting an unrelated robbery offence.

Mr Clare added: “She is a 41-year-old lady of good character with a family.

“Another person pressured her into this although she accepts it was her fault. She was vulnerable and depressed at the time.”

Judge Paul Downes sentenced her to a six-month sentence suspended for two years. She will complete 150 hours of unpaid work in the community, pay compensation of £734 and costs of £200.

Mr Downes said her offence had clearly been a breach of trust. He added: “You do not appear to be the prime mover in this but nevertheless you are the one who had the keys and no doubt the knowledge to commit this crime.”

Speaking outside court, William Heath, managing director of the Arlington Hotel Group, which owns the Hotel Wroxham, said he hoped the sentence would send out a strong message.

He added: “Cases like this should be highlighted to deter other people robbing from their employers.

“It causes distress and upset to everyone concerned. Tracy's case was particularly upsetting as she knew the duty manager who was looking after the hotel that night but still felt it was OK to go in and commit burglary.

“The duty manager was traumatised beyond belief and will not now work nights as it left her so upset.


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