A thieving Wigan pub worker who stole more than £33,000 from his employers to fuel his booze and gambling addictions has avoided jail - and won’t have to pay back a penny to his victims either.
In a gross breach of trust, Isaac Greenwood salted the cash away over a period of nine months from the Martland Mill Brewery Company.
And his former employers reacted with dismay and anger on learning from the Wigan Observer of the outcome.
Greenwood was manager of the brewery’s Tap ‘n’ Barrel micropub in Wigan town centre and owners Delia and Paul Wood had given him the responsibility of cashing up at the end of a night and getting the money ready for the bank.
But the 27-year-old, of Henry Park Street, Ince, had his fingers in the till and siphoned off a total of £33,690.
The hearing was told that his criminal activity came to an end when Mr Wood began asking questions as to why takings were down, despite the firm apparently doing brisk business.
In May this year he consulted a financial expert who went through the books at the Jaxon’s Court watering hole and confirmed that a hefty six-figure sum could not be accounted for.
Greenwood and another member of staff were both confronted and denied any involvement in the money’s disappearance. But when faced with more evidence, Greenwood finally confessed that it had been he who had been stealing the cash.
He told both the Woods and police during interview that he had drink and gambling problems and had taken the money to pay for them. But the couple suspect he was also splashing out on a lavish lifestyle which should have been beyond his means, including a trip to Florida earlier this year.
Pleading guilty to theft, he was given a 12-month prison sentence which was suspended for two years, a 15-day rehabilitation order and he was ordered to carry out 120 hours’ unpaid work.
The Bolton Crown Court judge hit him with a victim surcharge but no compensation order was made because, the court heard, Greenwood was now unemployed and “had no money.”
And so the case was closed without any recompense for the Woods who now only have possible civil action as a recourse.
Mr Wood said: “I am absolutely stunned by what has happened. We feel like the whole system has let us down.
“After all this he has pretty much got away with it. It’s diabolical.
“What kind of message does this send? You steal tens of thousands of pounds from your employers, you don’t get sent to prison and you don’t have to hand any of it back because you’ve spent it all.
“Meanwhile we have to take a £34,000 hit. That would have done for a lot of smaller companies. Fortunately we can sustain it because we have the brewery as well as the bar, but it does mean that our ambitions to open a second bar have completely stalled.
“We are not letting this go though. We are definitely going to pursue further legal action through the civil courts.
“The thing is that he is out of work at the moment but he’s a bright lad and one day he will have a nice job with a nice income and a nice house but still won’t be required to pay anything back. Meanwhile we’ll still be £34,000 out of pocket.”
Mr Wood said that at first he felt sorry for Greenwood and kept him on as a barman and even attended a Gamblers Anonymous session with him, but eventually sacked him amid reports that he was still gambling and promises of paying the cash back coming to nothing.
Recalling the whole sorry episode, Mr Wood said: “Isaac came to us 12 months ago. Delia and I were new to the game, neither of us having had a bar before, and because we were that busy we needed someone to run the bar for us.
“Isaac came over as very enthusiastic and very loyal; he had good ideas, was a good worker and a good time-keeper. We eventually took on another supervisor to work alongside him. Everything was going well.
“Isaac had to do all the book-keeping and till receipts, but what he was doing was fiddling the books and he did it for eight, maybe nine months.
“We had noticed what a lavish life he was leading even though he was not on a big wage. He was forever going off on luxury breaks and fancy holidays, even one to Florida in January. But his girlfriend also worked and we thought that maybe he had got some money put aside.
“When he did confess he said he had a drink and gambling addiction but I think there was more to it than that and he was spending a lot of the money he stole from us on this luxury lifestyle.
“Looking back he was a good manipulator. He came across as a lovely lad and we never dreamt he would be capable of that.
“But I could see there was a loss in the business. The Tap ‘n’ Barrel had gone from strength to strength yet I could see the takings dropping and dropping. It was because he was taking more and more as he gained in confidence.
“When I started to look into it, it could only be one of two people: Isaac and the other supervisor. Then the penny dropped: it had to be Isaac because he liked to be in control of everything. We had an accountant in before we confronted both of them because I wanted a second opinion. I soon knew it wasn’t the other supervisor.
“When we had the initial meeting he just denied it but I could tell he was lying. He wasn’t a good liar. He was trying to blame it on everyone else, including Delia.
“I then pulled him in for a one-to-one. There was nothing physical involved but I forcefully said ‘I know it’s you’ and after a few minutes he confessed.
“He knew the net was closing in and what the consequences were.”
But the Woods did not sack Greenwood on the spot. Rather he was given a lifeline.
Mr Wood added; “I worked with him on his gambling - which was a mixture of online games of chance and fixed odds betting machines - and I even went to a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting with him.
“And we kept him on, just as a barman, with much stricter controls, because we did not think he was otherwise bad.
“He had been well brought up, his parents were nice people and they were utterly mortified to discover what he had done.
“I also worked with him to get the money back. This went on for three weeks but all it proved to me was that there was no hope because we received reports back that he was carrying on gambling. He also said that he had the money ready for me at the bank but that came to nothing too.
“Enough was enough and we dismissed him. We had to do what we could to get our money back.
“When I looked at the books I had estimated that about £20,000 was missing, but after we had a full audit, it turned out to be nearer £34,000.
“I remember finding a statement in his bag where he had paid himself £7,000 in one go, such was his confidence in not getting caught.
“We feel awful, absolutely, totally devastated, not least because we feel the legal system as well as Isaac has let us down.
“We don’t think the sentence is anywhere near tough enough and we are not letting it lie.”