A POLICE station worker from Wigan stole more than £100,000 from under the noses of the force, getting away with it for four years before he was rumbled.
Craig Rothwell, 28, of Havenwood Road, Whitley, stole the cash from Bootle Street police station in Manchester to fund his gambling habit.
And, Manchester Crown Court heard, the crimes could have remained undiscovered if he hadn’t stopped turning up for work – apparently “sickened” by what he had done.
Rothwell was a supervisor at the International Visitors Registration Unit.
Foreign visitors go to the office to pay for £34 police registration certificates as part of visa requirements.
But instead of banking the money paid by thousands of visitors, Rothwell – described by his defence as a “pathological gambler” – blew it on online poker, horse racing bets, and high-stakes casino games.
At one stage, he withdrew thousands of the stolen cash to pay for a trip to Australia, but ended up gambling it away before he could book the ticket.
Now he has been jailed for 16 months after admitting theft.
But he will only have to repay £1 because he lives with his parents and has no assets.
Rothwell, who began working as an office junior at the department 10 years ago, was even promoted to supervisor while secretly frittering away the funds. The sum he stole amounts to 20 per cent of his department’s total income over the four-year period.
The court heard that in August 2010, a manager called to see Rothwell and found he had been absent for several months.
Rothwell resigned the day before a disciplinary hearing.
An investigation was launched and it emerged that £106,920 was missing, Christopher Beckwith, prosecuting, told the court. Rothwell was arrested last December and admitted what he had done.
Joseph Barry, defending, said Rothwell had been overwhelmed by his addiction and was deeply ashamed.
Mr Barry added: “I’m not going to say it was an accident waiting to happen – it was a disaster which was well set up.”
Sentencing him, Judge Martin Rudland said that if Rothwell had been able to carry on as normal by going into work, the thefts could have gone on indefinitely.
He said it was tragic to see Rothwell in the dock, adding: “You have been corrupted by gambling. You betrayed your employers and of course you betrayed yourself.”