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Worker stole casino cash 'to pay debt'

PUBLISHED: 09:50 17 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:24 03 July 2010

A Yarmouth casino worker stole £8,500 by stuffing it in his socks and jacket to pay off a large gambling debt, a court heard yesterday.

After Peter Smith filled his socks with cash, he left the Palace Casino and immediately fled to Ireland to settle a £6,000 poker debt.

A Yarmouth casino worker stole £8,500 by stuffing it in his socks and jacket to pay off a large gambling debt, a court heard yesterday.

After Peter Smith filled his socks with cash, he left the Palace Casino and immediately fled to Ireland to settle a £6,000 poker debt. He then flew to Thailand to spend the rest of his ill-gotten gains.

Smith pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing £8,500 from his employer and was told he faced going to prison when he appears before a judge later in the year for sentencing.

Yarmouth Magistrates' Court heard that Smith, a cash-desk worker, stole the money because he was worried that the Irish gamblers to whom he owed £6,000 might threaten his family.

Conrad Shaw, prosecuting, said that on the evening of May 24, the casino's security computer system noticed a 'movement of cash made in a suspicious nature' involving money in a safe.

CCTV footage revealed that Smith, 37, who now lives at his parents' home in Southampton, had gone to the safe, taken money from it and placed it in his socks.

Mr Shaw said: “He was seen putting packets of cash into socks, quite a considerable wodge of cash at that.”

Smith was then seen placing money from the safe in a coat jacket as he left the casino, which opened at the end of last year in Church Plain.

Several hours later, police were alerted to the theft and went to Smith's home nearby but found he had already fled to Ireland.

Mr Shaw said that on Tuesday, Smith gave himself up at Yarmouth police station and said he had taken the money to pay off a poker debt.

A check on his travel details revealed that he had also gone to Thailand since he had fled Norfolk two months ago.

Chris Bowles, in mitigation, said his client gave himself up as he always knew he would be caught following his unsophisticated theft, which had resulted in 'pressure' from the Irish poker debt.

Mr Bowles said: “He is genuinely remorseful for what he did. He was fearful of what might happen to him and his family if the money was not paid.”

Mr Bowles said the Gaming Board had informed Smith, who had no previous convictions, that he could never work in casinos and other gambling sites again.

Magistrates decided they did not have sufficient enough power to sentence Smith and committed him to Norwich Crown Court to be sentenced at a later date.

Smith was bailed on the condition that he lives at his parents' address in Teme Crescent, Southampton, must report to police daily and cannot hold a passport or apply for any travel documents.

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